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5 Tips for the Perfect Summer College Road Trip

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college visitsThis summer, you’re probably doing a lot of things to get ready for your senior year. You’re obviously beginning your summer reading list early so you don’t have to cram five books in the week before school starts. You may have just started your first real job, or are taking as many shifts as possible  over the summer to save up money for college. Or maybe you’re spending your summer relaxing by the pool with some friends. Let’s be honest though, most of us are probably just spending hours on Netflix catching up on our favorite shows or watching reruns of Friends.

No matter what you’re doing this summer, take some time to go on a college road trip! Before you start applying to colleges in the fall, it’s important to decide which colleges you actually want to apply to. The best way to start is by visiting. So crank your driving playlist because we made you a guide to planning out your perfect summer college road trip and how to make the most of it!

1. Make a List of What You Want

Before you do anything, make a list of everything you want and don’t want in a college. What size college do you want? A large university or a liberal arts college? Do you like big lectures, or do you prefer small, discussion-based classes? Do you want to commute from home or go to school a little further afield? How far do you want to go from home? Do you want to be in a large city or a small town? All of these are important questions when considering where you want to be in a little over a year from now. And if you’re not sure, plan visits to a mix of schools as a way to figure it out!

2. Research Colleges Online

Believe it or not, the internet is for more than just watching funny cat videos (I know, we were surprised too). The internet is actually a great source to begin your college search. Start with a quick google search of programs you might be interested in or geographic areas you may want to learn in. Research liberal arts colleges and universities so you get a little taste of everything. You may be surprised at what you come up with. Use U.S. News and World Report’s endless lists as another source to see what kind of schools are out there and what may fit your needs. Read College Confidential discussions with current students and parents, check out their websites, look at pictures online, do everything you can to familiarize yourself with some schools. Don’t forget about your list of what you want. Once you’ve narrowed down a solid list of schools, you’re interested in, you can start to plan your trip!

3. Map it Out

Once you’ve picked some colleges that fit your needs and wants, map out your road trip! Maybe you’re going to visit them all in one shot or maybe you want to spread them out. Either way, make sure you plan your trip logically. Maybe your family is driving to Palm Beach to visit your grandma; pick out a few campuses to hit on the way there, and on the way back. If you go to camp over the summer, why not see if your family will add a few days of travel before dropping you off or after picking you up. Don’t forget to plan it with your  parents because their support during this process is pivotal to your success.

4. Lookup Nearby Landmarks, Activities, and Restaurants

You’re just entering your adult life and this may be the first and last chance you have to travel and see everything the United States has to offer. Maybe you’re visiting colleges in and around Boston and have always wanted to take a Freedom Trail Tour! Or perhaps you are going to Philadelphia and want to sample all the food offerings at the Reading Terminal Market or see the famous Liberty Bell. Take some time out of your schedule to leave room for fun things! This will also acquaint you with the area that you may be going to school in, which may be a huge factor in your decision of whether or not to attend a particular college.

5. Keep a Journal

A journal is a great way to keep track of what you liked and didn’t like about the colleges you visited. This way, when you go to apply in the fall, you can reference back to the page where you wrote “YOU HATED THIS SCHOOL!” and remind yourself not to apply there, or the page where you wrote “THIS IS MY DREAM SCHOOL” and remind yourself to pay extra attention to their supplemental essays.

Remember to make the most of your free time this summer by going on as many college visits as possible! The school you choose to attend will be your home for the next four years, so make sure you apply to places that you can see yourself in for a long time. We wish you luck in your quest for the perfect college! Are the Ivy Leagues part of your road trip? See how one student got into all eight!

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