As the calendar inches toward late winter and spring and the academic breaks for President’s Day, Spring Break, and Easter, many junior families (and some sophomore families) will consider visiting college campuses.

At our College Conversations program on January 17, the college counseling team provided a handout of tips for visiting college campuses. We encourage families planning for college visits to review the handout and to keep the following in mind:

  • In general, once your student is in ninth grade, it is not a bad idea to stop by a college campus anytime you are near one that might be of interest. Early on in Upper School these can be informal stops, but starting in the spring of sophomore year, it is good to officially sign up for visits through the admissions office.
  • The official campus tour is always worth your time, and most colleges will also offer a brief admissions information session or an individual appointment with an admission officer. The website for the admissions office will include a very detailed visit calendar as well as dates of larger-scale open house programs. Consult these dates and register for your visit in advance; if you appear unannounced, you risk finding that tours are full or that no visit programming is being offered that day.
  • College visits tend to be either for “browsing” or for “test driving.” “Browsing” visits are for gathering information and establishing general preferences. These tend to characterize visits prior to spring of junior year. “Test Drives” are the visits meant to determine if your student can truly see him- or herself at the school. These visits should ideally be lengthier (not more than one campus per day) and should be the product of much more prep work and forethought.
  • Even if you have no major travel plans this spring, it would still be a terrific use of time to utilize these academic breaks to visit one or more local Minnesota colleges. Visiting local colleges can be helpful even for students who think they are inclined to leave the state for college. Our local colleges exhibit a broad range of campus characteristics and student cultures which can help students decide what to focus on when researching or preparing to visit out-of-state colleges. Minnesota Private Colleges Week, held each June, is great way to “browse” one or more of Minnesota’s 17 independently funded colleges during a week when they are holding coordinated open houses. Providence Academy annually plans a field trip to two colleges during MPCW.

The college counselors are always happy to weigh in on campus visits plans and college trips. Please contact us with questions.

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