It’s Spring Break season and if you’re in high school or have a child in high school, you may be thinking about visiting colleges and universities over spring break. Good for you! This is an excellent time of year to visit schools for a variety of reasons: colleges are often in session when high schools are not; even if the school you visit is on a break, you’ll still be able to tour the campus and visit with an admission representative; the weather for most regions of the U.S. is cooperative, making travel planning easy and campus tours more pleasant; and finally, if you’re a freshman, sophomore or junior in high school you can get a good start on your college search process. If you’re a senior, this is the time to take a last look at your final choices before the May 1st enrollment deadline.
So where do you begin? If you have time off from school and are considering out of state schools, try to group schools together (schools in Southern California or Boston, for example) or see if you can connect a tour of colleges to a visit with grandparents, other relatives or neighbors who’ve moved away.
What if you have no idea where to begin looking at schools? A visit to a parent or relative’s alma mater can be a good place to start, or you can ask your guidance counselor or IEC (Independent Educational Consultant) for help creating a list of schools to visit. Or you can test the waters with local schools to get a feel for things you like and don’t like. Here in the Cleveland area, we’re fortunate to have a very high concentration of colleges and universities, both public and private, large and small, religiously affiliated and independent, highly selective to less selective, Division I to Division III. Within an hour’s drive of Cleveland you can visit such four-year schools as Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Lake Erie College, Notre Dame College, Oberlin College, and Ursuline College.
Before you go anywhere, a few suggestions:
- Register for tours and information sessions at each school and meet or get the business card of the admission counselor responsible for your school or geographic area – you want to be “recorded” in each school’s system as having visited – it’s called “demonstrated interest” and can be a factor in admission and aid decisions
- Purchase a small notebook and take it with you to record impressions from each school
- Bring your cell phone and use it to take photos on each campus – make sure you get shots of the same things like classroom, residence hall, individual room, dining commons, athletic facilities, other areas of personal interest like a lab or rehearsal studio
- Once home, upload, organize and tag your photos on a site like Shutterfly, Picasa or Pinterest
Happy College Touring!