The Pros and Cons of Different Times to Visit Colleges

When's the best time to visit a college, summer, spring, winter, or fall?

Flickr user b k

You’ve probably heard various opinions on when you should plan to do your college visits. During the school year? Summer break? Winter break? Spring semester or fall semester? Here are some quick pros and cons for each visit option.

Summer Break Visit

Pros: You don’t have to worry about missing school. You see the school at probably its most scenic time. You’ll have time to talk to faculty and admissions.

Con: You can’t get a feel for what the atmosphere will be like since most of the student population will be gone. There are fewer classes to sit in on, and they’ll likely be longer than average since summer courses are more compact.

Winter Break*

Pros: Again, you don’t have to worry about school conflicts. Going during winter months is informative because you’ll be spending most of your attendance either leading up to it or battling through it.

Cons: There are very rarely classes to sit in on. A particularly harsh winter day might dissuade you from attending. Some offices might be closed/faculty and staff have gone home.

Fall Semester

Pros: You really get a feel for the campus energy (especially if it’s a big football school). You’ll have plenty of intro-level classes to sit in on in your field. If you only have spring activities, this is likely your best time to visit during the school year.

Cons: You’ll have to work around your school schedule. Faculty will be busy with office hours and classes.

Spring Semester

Pros: If you’re involved in fall sports, spring will likely be better for you schedule-wise. You’ll be able to sit in on classes. And spring break provides a great opportunity to avoid missing school.

Cons: Much of spring semester feels like winter. Some schools are not at their most beautiful until later in the semester, so you might miss some of the aesthetics. If you’re visiting junior year, you’ll likely have to factor in the ACT/SAT testing dates.

**Note: Your humble writer understands that there are schools in states where the differences between winter and summer don’t matter, or at least where winter is still comfortable. However, your writer is from the Midwest, and can attest to the complete unpredictability that winter brings. She hears it might be better on the coasts and knows it’s milder in the south.

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