The summer before your senior year is the time to get serious about college. Many soon-to-be high school seniors use this time to research and compare their various college options. Some begin their college career at a community college to save money and stay close to home, whereas others are ready to exert their independence and go away to school.
Although summer is the time to let loose, have fun and enjoy your friends, scoping out colleges is one way to get the most out of vacation time. But even if you’re serious about your education, you may not want to spend your time off on a college campus. Rather than view this as a chore, plan a trip with your high school buddies and turn your campus tour into an adventure.
Scoping out colleges? Here are four tips for a successful college visit:
1. Narrow down colleges and then schedule an admissions tour with the chosen universities.
This is a guided tour of the campus. You may visit student centers, dormitories, as well as different departments. This is your opportunity to take notes and pictures, and ask questions about the school. If possible, schedule your trip when summer school is in session. There is a greater opportunity to speak with students and professors.
2. Schedule a conference with a professor in your field.
Professors and department heads welcome conferences with prospective students. Discuss undergraduate and graduate requirements for the major, class sizes and various concentrations within the major. Get permission to visit a class in your major. Thus, you can observe a college classroom and see how students interact with the professor.
3. Explore on your own.
The admissions tour may not visit every area on campus. But after the tour, participants have free reign to explore the college campus on their own. Take advantage of this invitation and visit areas that were omitted from the tour. Visit the library, the bookstore, the residence halls, the theater or the dining hall. Walk around campus and check out the commons area. Read the campus bulletin boards to learn about upcoming events, clubs and campus news.
4. Spend the night.
Want to save on hotel accommodations? Talk to the schools on your campus tour and see if you can arrange an overnight stay. This not only benefits your pocket, but provides a real-life college experience. If overnight stays are permitted, you’ll bunk in one of the residence halls and you’ll be assigned a student host. This person can provide additional information about the school and perhaps give a behind-the-scenes tour.
Planning a trip to visit college campuses is fun — getting to your destinations is a completely different story. Trips of this nature are not free, and costs will soar if you travel by plane or train. Rather than fly or hit the railways, rent a vehicle and drive to the different campuses.
GMC conversion vans are the perfect choice. These vans are spacious and include many amenities, such as a flat screen television, a video game console and seating for up to 12 passengers. Conversion vans are easy to drive, plus they get better gas mileage than most sport utility vehicles. As long as the driver is over the age of 21 – such as an older sibling or a parent – you can hit the open road and explore your college options.