Attention, juniors: spring break is coming up. Unfortunately, this is not the time to relax and go on a nice long vacation with your family. Not this year. Every other year of your life, sure, but this is not the time for relaxation. This is the time to use this free time to your advantage.
We know that you’ve spent all of your other breaks touring colleges, so it might not be how you want to spend your time during this upcoming one. We’re here to say that we’re sorry, but, we’re not actually sorry. You need to keep touring. A+ for having gone on a few (or a lot) tours already, which means that you likely have a solid idea about what type of school you want (think size, location, strength of department for your intended major). If you don’t, then that’s where we start. Here’s a foolproof guide to planning your spring break if you’re someone who has already toured a college (or four):
1. Make a list
If you haven’t done so already, make a list of qualities that you truly enjoyed about the schools that you’ve visited thus far. Maybe you loved the intimate feeling that you felt when you stepped onto Carleton and Connecticut College’s campuses, or the anonymity of zigzagging between cars and buildings of uptown NYC at Barnard. Whatever you felt, whatever you liked, write it down, and take note. These key factors are going to determine the rest of your college tour list, and they are important. For every component of a college that you liked, there are more colleges that possess that quality, and at the same time, there are tons that don’t. Being opinionated in this process is important, but so is keeping an open mind. We love students who are clear about what they want, but it can get tricky when they happen to start listing off things that only one school (oftentimes, their “dream school”) possesses. If you don’t have any opinions…call us. We’ll start asking the hard-hitting questions and you’ll find that you actually do have opinions.
2. Start researching
That’s right—start Googling! Take the components of a school that you’ve found that you absolutely love and start finding some other schools that might mirror those qualities. Do some digging now that you have the time (we know you’re procrastinating writing that Global paper right now and we’re only OK with it if you’re doing research on this instead).
3. Don’t forget to compare the numbers
Although it might be sad to let go of your super-duper reach school, it’s important to start to take numbers (we’re talking test scores) into account at this point. If the schools on your list are straight up out of your range, then we’d advise against visiting them. Visit schools that are in-range in terms of numbers. It’s always better to spend your time and resources visiting places that you actually have a shot at being accepted to. And, it’s less work later. If it’s one of your final few schools that you’re deciding between, then you already have the data to back up your opinion. Are some of your schools just out of range? Maybe consider signing up for that next SAT or ACT sitting when you still have the time.
4. Book the tour and then some
Book now, figure it out later. If possible, book an on-campus interview. But talk to your parents of course, if you’re relying on them for a ride or a plane ticket. If there is a way for you to get to a place with a few different colleges in the same area, that’s wonderful. If not, then choosing even one school to get to over spring break is better than none (though if we could have it our way, all of our students would be visiting at least 3 schools over spring break).
5. Equip yourself with knowledge and prepare accordingly
If this whole thing feels overwhelming, know that it’s not just you. It’s why we’re here. Let us help you plan your upcoming spring break—just give us a call or email us.