College Plan Timeline:


Many high schools have campus tour groups that visit local colleges. Check with your high school to see if it has a program like this.

Be your own campus explorer -- visit college campuses and take guided tours.

It’s time to go out and see what you’re getting yourself into.

There’s no substitute for time on campus, and the summer is the perfect season to get out there and experience college life. While the typical college won’t have a full compliment of students, summertime is a great period to talk with admissions officers, financial aid representatives, and counselors, who will have more time for you with fewer students around to support.

Where should I start?

Most college visits take place during the fall because it gives prospective students the full college experience and allows them to visit with professors and students and maybe even sit in on a class or two. But since visits are expensive and time consuming, you need to decide which colleges you’ll visit in the summer and which warrant a more traditional fall visit.

  • Option 1: Top Five Schools

Pros: Visiting your top schools first make sense. These are the ones you want to make sure you visit at least once.
Cons: Most likely you won’t get to sit in on classes or visit with students. Plus you may not even have a top 5 yet.

  • Option 2: Local Schools

Pros: Visiting local schools is a low impact way of narrowing your choices.
Cons: These may not be your top choices, and you probably have a good sense of these schools already.

  • Option 3: Far Schools

Pros: You’ll be busy in the fall and you won’t want to miss too much class to visit schools that might take a few days to visit.
Cons: Funds are probably limited so you’ll want to make your visits count. In the summer you probably won’t get the full student experience.

What to do while you’re there:

There are many things you’ll want to accomplish while you’re on campus. But before you get in the minivan with your parents, you’ll want to schedule a tour and perhaps some informal meetings with admissions or financial aid staff. You might even be able to talk with a few students if summer classes are in session.

Remember you probably won’t be able to make multiple visits to the same school so make the most of your time on campus.

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Related Tools and Checklists

High School Junior Timeline and Checklist
High School Senior Timeline and Checklist

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