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Why College Visits Should be Complete by May 1st

Think of the last place you were that felt deserted. Nearly empty stadium? An island accessible by boat? A college campus in July?

It’s happened more often than I wish. A student visits a college campus in summer that I just know in my heart, based on my experience, will be a great fit and……they come back disappointed. Why? Campuses generally don’t feel alive in summer when most students are gone. Even if there are some summer classes or high school camps, it just doesn’t feel the same. If the student can’t picture him or herself among the hustle and bustle, what could be a great fit will fall flat.

There are other reasons, any time of year, a visit may be less than such as a poor tour guide or crummy weather, but the one that is within a family’s control is the timing of the visit.

There are two primary reasons why May 1 of junior year is a great target date by which to end visits.

  1. The vast majority of colleges release for summer in early May before high schools let out.
  2. Most college applications go LIVE on August 1 before the activity on campus resumes. If visiting campus is part of your process to select WHERE to apply, remember college visits matter A LOT with school tracking demonstrated interest, you need to be ready to apply in August.

So how do we accomplish this goal date?

  • Pull out the family calendar and high school calendar side-by-side.
  • Plan the dates you can use for visits. Note any “days off” school such as Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, teacher professional development days, spring break. (Ignore Thanksgiving and Winter breaks as college students are home.)
  • Ask your high school how many excused absences you can use for college visits. Generally, this is 2-3, but some schools don’t limit this.

Once you know WHEN you’ll visit it’s time to figure out WHERE.

You probably can easily come up with a short list, much of it local. However, LEAP has a team of college counselors with expertise in colleges via our visits to countless campuses and interacting with admissions staff at the colleges. We are able to help you to tap into YOU and harness information to find the best possible fits for you to visit.

If you want to learn HOW to do it yourself, LEAP’s College Selection Strategies Seminar is for you. Bring your laptop and begin interacting with LEAP identified resources to narrow the field of 3,000 4-year colleges to find the ones that fit you and you should further explore. We will also teach you how to discover which schools track demonstrated interest.

Feeling overwhelmed? Want to rely on our expertise to generate your list of 12-14 colleges that match what’s important and essential to your family? Use LEAP’s College List Service anytime in your process.

You’re Behind?

We regularly hear from rising juniors who can’t meet this May 1st deadline. Don’t despair!

Narrow the field and vet the colleges online. If you feel fairly certain of “fit”, move ahead with application then visit during the school year when school is in session. Often times students don’t visit a college, particularly those at a great distance, until after accepted & knowing the financial package. Believe me, even for schools you’ve already visited prior to application, you’ll very likely need another visit to compare your final choices in your senior year.

Of course, you can always go ahead and visit when school’s out. Just be sure to keep in perspective the deserted island, so it doesn’t falsely sway you.

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