It’s the first day of summer! For many of you, it’s also the last day of school. This was very clear during my drive to work this morning as I watched students of all ages running, skipping and even cartwheeling to the bus stop.

This also means that many of you are starting to think about an epic college tour, visiting as many schools as possible in between camps, jobs and all of the other activities that contribute to a “quiet” summer.  In the Boston area, where there are about 40 schools located within a 10 mile radius, this means days braving our civilized city roads and highways seeing several schools in one day. Very efficient, but I think after a day of rushing to 2, 3, maybe 4 schools (I have not met anyone who has made it to 5-let me know if you’re that person who can break the time space continuum to make that happen.) everything will start to blur together and all of a sudden it feels like you spent that day at a big uber university, with lots of quads, cool study abroad options and very very enthusiastic tour guides.

Don’t get me wrong-I am a big fan of the traditional college visit-our tour guides are very excited to show you the highlights of their school and tell you why they made their choice. The information session can be a good way to sit in an air-conditioned space learning about things like curriculum, admission policies and what makes the school different. You should all register for a campus visit if you have the opportunity.

My advice to you? Take your time when you get on a campus. Where to apply is an important decision and a vibe of a campus can help determine if the place will be a good fit for you. I’m a big fan of going off-roading during a campus visit. That is, getting away from the more formal admission presentation to experience the school as you would as an actual student. There are a lot of ways to do this, particularly when school is in session.

To get another perspective, I decided to take a walk around the building and ask my colleagues what they did to get the unplugged campus vibe, on or off campus. (OK, maybe I just needed an excuse to get away from my desk for a few minutes) Here’s what they had to say:

James: “When my dad and I visited schools we liked to break off from the tour and talk to random students hanging outside the residence halls. That’s how I could picture myself going somewhere”

Tommaso: “I talked to an alum I knew from the school I attended”

Hannah: “I’d sit in the dining hall or attend an athletic event if there is a home game”

Asa: “Sit in the campus center and chat with people. People like to talk.”

Manny the Intern: “In the fall, after visits are done go visit your admission officer when they visit your school. James was the one who sold me on Babson” (Note: James was standing behind Manny encouraging him..I believe money changed hands)

Ellen: “Read the blogs” Note: No one had to bribe Ellen here-it was all her.

My favorite story about the off-road college visit came from an applicant a few years ago who used to go to dining halls and stand with her back to the juice machine, where she would then ask anyone passing by where the juice was. If they were able to answer her in a friendly way without pointing out the obvious, she knew that it was a good place.

Whatever works. See you on campus.

 

Offroading