Whether you’ve been diligently working on your college applications or pretending that fall is still months away, consider a break. Take a day and head to a nearby college campus.
If your closest college campus is mere miles and a school you are planning to apply to, that’s great. If you aren’t planning to stick that close to home, you’ll still gain perspective and maybe the motivation to head back to essay writing.
At many universities, summer is quite different from the academic year, so be prepared to take it in stride. A normally bustling campus may feel eerily serene, the food options in the cafeteria are likely more limited. Professors may be doing field research or taking vacation.
The admissions office is still an excellent place to start. You should be able to take a campus tour (led by a current student, in almost all cases), and meet individually or in a group setting with a member of the admissions staff. After a few hours, you’ll have the lowdown on the admissions process and the layout of the major campus landmarks.
While you are on campus, look for large lecture halls and small classrooms. Take a seat and see how you feel. Try to find another current student (one who isn’t there for just the summer) and ask him or her about likes and dislikes. See how big the campus really is. I once had a friend who happily requested a residence hall overlooking the campus golf course. It wasn’t until he arrived on campus that he realized the golf course was: a) covered in snow 6+ months of the year and b) a solid 15 minute walk from the engineering quad where he was taking his classes. Take a walk around the surrounding area. Are you able to find a variety of things to do and places to go?
When you complete your visit, spend some time collecting your impressions, both positive and negative. As you visit other campuses, revisit your initial list and compare your reactions.