Spring break is all about cutting loose and enjoying the sunshine. But this school-free week is also a prime time for high school sophomores and juniors to check out their potential future college campuses.
Here are a few tips from Garrett Educational Consulting Founder Katie Garrett about how to make the most of your spring break trip:
Make plans based on your geographical location Will you be at the beach with your family? Scope out a nearby college that piqued your interest online. If your family hasn't made spring break plans yet, college visits could help create the travel agenda. "Look at your potential school list and pick a few that are in the same location, or close driving distance," Katie suggests. And once you've narrowed down where you'll be spending the break, consider branching out and seeing other schools in that area. "For example, if you're going to Boston and plan to visit Boston University and Boston College, you could consider adding Northeastern or Tufts or somewhere else that would give you a different feel," Katie says.
Sign up for the official tour Walking around campus is a good way to get a feel for a school, but there's no substitute for taking the official college tour. "If you have time to sign up for a tour, definitely do it so they have a record of your name and interest," Katie says. "Even if you're a freshman tagging along with big brother or big sister, log your name as well." Leaning toward a specific school within the college, such as business school or engineering? See if you can tour that school as well.
Ask questions on the tour Tours are typically given by current students, who can be a treasure trove of information about the school. "Ask 'What are you involved in on campus? What did you do last weekend?' and other questions that will help you get a feel for campus life," Katie says. "This is your chance to get a different perspective from what you've read on the school's website." Other good questions include: - Is there lots of social activity on campus on the weekends or do most people go home? - What's your favorite class? - What's your favorite school tradition?
Take photos at each school Katie's advice for camera roll organization: Take a photo of the school's main sign (or something else to identify it) and then you'll know all the photos after that are from that school's campus. "Don't be embarrassed to take photos -- everyone will be doing it," Katie says. "They'll help you remember each campus once you've gone home and are making your decision."
Take notes during the information session You may think you'll remember what you liked and didn't like about each school you visit, but the fact is they all start to blur together eventually. "Whether you handwrite notes, record them on your phone or have your parent do it, you need to take notes during the information session," Katie says. (GEC students can do this in their College Planner Pro account)
Use online and print resources to plan your trip Plan your lodging, food and even take a self-guided tour using resources like CollegeScoops.com. "They basically give you the nitty-gritty of going to visit schools like what hotel to stay at, which restaurants the students love, what to see while you're on campus and all the other things you always wonder about," Katie says. Another great resource is the FISKE Guide to Colleges, which contains a one-page narrative about each school.
Don't limit yourself to just campus Of course you'll want to walk around campus, do the tour and info sessions, check out the football field and more. But also make sure you do some close-to-campus activities a student might do, like eating at a nearby restaurant and visiting the bookstore, Katie suggests.
Totally unsure of what you're looking for in a college experience? Look for a questionnaire online (we use Corsava) that will help you hone in on what types of schools you might be interested in.
Need help with planning, tours and anything else related to college admissions? Call Garrett Educational Consulting at 980-677-0311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay on top of all college admissions news by subscribing to our newsletter here.