School is out for the summer. It seems like the perfect time to check out the top colleges on your list. Right? Think again.

Don't let the warm air and sunny brochures fool you. Despite what you may think, one of the worst times to visit a college campus is during the summer—especially if you want to know what it's really like at that college.

Visiting a college campus is much more than just seeing the physical buildings.

 In fact, it's arguably unimportant to only lean on the things that you can find online. Stats about the school's clubs and academics can be found through all different college portals, websites and pamphlets, but the physical environment, student body vibe and campus involvement can only be seen first-hand. In the summer months when a smaller amount of students take a class on campus, this lens is limited. 

The number of people on the quad, how many students are actually crammed in per class, the foot traffic, how busy restaurants in campus get, what are the hot-spots and seeing student interact in their natural habitats are extremely important parts of visiting a college. Sure, there's not as much of a wait because it's less crowded and you get more one-on-one time with tour guides, but it's just not the same experience as going to that college. You only get half of the picture, probably not all what you want from a tour. 

You can still get all of the positives of a summer tour during the fall. 

You can still look at the school before you apply. It'll save you some application fees if you don't like them, or you can check them out in the spring as well to cross a few off your list. Be proactive. Ask your tour guide questions and engage with students. More often than not, they'll enjoy it! Explore the area, too because that's half the battle when picking a school. You're not just going to stay on campus. Do yourself a favor and pick a day that works for you. Go for a long weekend in the fall, get permission for a day off school or during vacation. Try to visit any time the students attending the college will still be there! You won't regret it. 


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