4 Outstanding Reasons for Juniors to Make College Visits
If you're a junior and a casual question about your plans after high school has you in a cold sweat, there's good news: you've got all the time you need to find the right college. Starting now is the key.
Touring schools in the fall or spring of your junior year offers some important advantages over waiting until the summer or your senior year. Learn why, explore our advice on getting organized ("College Visits: Challenges and Solutions for High School Students"), and use the College Trip Planner to create your schedule.
1. College Visits Give You a Sense of What to Expect
Since starting high school, parents and teachers may have encouraged you to work hard so that you can get into a good college. However, until you set foot on campus, "college" is just a concept.
College visits for juniors can help them understand what the experience will be like:
- The independence and responsibility being away at school offers.
- The level of academic rigor and how well they are prepared for it.
- How college culture differs from high school.
Seeing campus can help you feel less nervous and get mentally prepared for applications, admissions, and moving on to what comes next.
2. Decide What You Do and Don't Want from a College
When you begin your college search, you might find it hard to weed through the different options. The sheer number of schools can be pretty overwhelming.
On your first few campus visits, you may only be able to focus on one or two details about your experience: whether the residence halls were livable, if you heard about a class or club that interested you, and so on.
Because juniors can take the time to visit more colleges, they have more information to identify what they like, what they don't like, and what matters most in a school. Knowing these criteria makes it a lot easier to refine their search.
3. Senior Year Is Packed
Senior year, especially in the fall, tends to be an extremely busy time:
- You might have taken a leadership role in one of your high school clubs or teams.
- You could be enrolled in advanced classes.
- You might just want to squeeze in as much time with your friends as possible, knowing that you may be heading off in different directions after graduation.
A busy senior year may mean that you're only able to visit colleges one or two times, and that can make choosing and applying to schools more difficult (check out "Campus Visits and Your College Applications.")
By visiting as a junior, you give yourself the opportunity to evaluate more colleges, target the ones you like the best, and decide between them all which is right for you.
4. College Visits for Juniors Can Make the Road Ahead Easier
Choosing a college is an exciting process of self-discovery. You learn about what you want from the next four years (and possibly beyond), and you get to think about the type of person you want to be. However, it's also a challenging experience for many students: extensive planning, forms and applications, hours of work, and anxiety about the outcome.
The good news: these challenges seem much smaller once you know what you are working toward. Visiting colleges as a junior helps you see the goal and understand why it's worth the effort. Get started planning your college road trip now, and you'll have the momentum to carry you through senior year and beyond.