I have talked before about visiting colleges. But when is the best time to visit a college?
There are two basic options.
The advantage of visiting a college before applying is to figure out if the college is a good choice for you. You can read all of the reviews and guide books on a particular college but until you actually get on the campus you can’t be sure if it is a good fit for you.
Only when you have a chance to talk to students and professors can you really know whether you would enjoy spending four years at the college. If you are able to visit before applying you can narrow down the colleges you are applying to by possibly eliminating those that were not a good fit for you.
Summer is a popular time to visit because you have time off and your parents will often take time off as well. However, because you ideally want the chance to talk with current students and professors, visiting in the summer is not the best option. The spring of junior year is often the best time to visit.
Visiting a college after you have been admitted is also a great time to visit because now you are looking at the reality of attending a particular college. Many colleges will hold admitted student days when all admitted students are invited to come visit the campus. The purpose of these visits is to encourage students that this college is a best option for them.
If you attend during admitted student days you can also see who your potentially future class mates will be. Do they look like a group of people that you would like to spend four years with?
The best option, if money is no object, is to visit both before applying and after being accepted. That will give you the best feel for which colleges to apply to and then actually attend. But if you have to make a choice, I lean toward the college visit before applying.
It takes a lot of time and effort to apply to different colleges. If you can narrow the list of colleges you are applying to down a few colleges you will make less work for yourself.