In today’s college landscape, a 4-year degree now takes, on average, six years to achieve. As parents with kids prepping for college, we have to be extra mindful of the school they choose or face spending a couple thousand dollars (or more).
This is why – both in my book and in previous posts – I’ve stressed that college selection is the number one priority in our effort to not pay retail for college.
Creating a strategic college list of schools is one of the first steps in achieving that goal.
Whittling down your list of schools that your student is pre-qualified for is a prudent place to start. From there, identifying schools that are a “right fit” choice – socially and academically – for your student is the next step.
This means selecting which schools on your list will squeeze the most passion from your student, will align with their values, will fit them culturally and make them feel like they’ve discovered their home away from home.
This is where summer college visits can play a role.
While it’s preferable for students to visit college campuses when school’s in session, summer visits can and should play a role in school selection. There’s simply more time for the family to identify all the campus resources, like the dining hall, library, student union and overall lay of the land.
If your approach is more Clark Grizwald, family road-trip style, you can expose your student to more campuses and hit multiple schools within a region when the demands of the high school year aren’t limiting you.
Generally, most college admissions welcome the idea of arranging time during the summer months – and it’s not at all out of bounds to ask, it’s part of their job.
Also, in the summer, the campus tours are more personalized, as there are fewer students visiting colleges at that time and there are other things your student can look into that are only active during the summer, such as research programs and other special “summer only” activities.
It should be noted that summer time on campus won’t offer the clearest picture of campus culture, as typically summer is a sleepier time at most colleges due to regular school year classes not happening at that time.
But all in all, it’s the flexibility and personalized nature of summer college visits that make it worthwhile for your student to look for that right-fit college for them, and one that won’t break the bank for you.
I put college selection as the number one priority in “Never Pay Retail for College” because it’s where the rubber meets the road.
This is why summer college visits where the student can ask the right questions, walk in the shoes of an on-campus student and get a good feel for where they’ll be spending the next four years of their life becomes a powerful tool in avoiding overpaying for college.
If you’d like to learn more about not paying retail for college, check out my book Never Pay Retail for College.