Visiting colleges on vacation

Consider using the opportunity when your family is visiting a new area to also think about life after high school.

Students at MSU
Photo © 2015 Michigan State University Board of Trustees

Thinking about the next steps after high school can be daunting for both students and parents. With spring break and summer coming up, Michigan State University Extension recommends using family vacation time to help everyone in the family think about post-secondary options.

If you are traveling somewhere for vacation, consider adding in a college visit. It doesn’t matter if the closest college to where you are vacationing is a serious option for your student or not; visiting any college campus can help you start to think about that next step after high school. While you are on a tour, you may hear an interesting fact or story from your tour guide (usually current students) that piques your interest. Use this time to ask questions from someone who is very familiar with college life, whether it be about that campus or college life in general. Sometimes it can be easier to ask questions in this setting. Think about talking with current students about study habits, balancing work obligations and what they love most about their major. Ask faculty or staff about their perspective on student success, what’s exciting in their field or about recommended reading.

This can be helpful for many members of your family. For parents, it can be a way to start visualizing their child on a college campus. For students, it can be a way to get information about a school as well learn more about college in general. For younger members of the family, it can be a way to explore the idea of post-secondary options in a general way and understand there are lots of different options after high school.

If you are visiting a school that is a serious option, meet as many people on campus as possible. Take the guided tour (usually a walking tour) and ask for further recommendations of places to explore. Request appointments with faculty and advisors to get a feel for course offerings and expectations. Meet with admissions counselors to learn more about the process as well as financial aid options.

While on campus, consider visiting their career center, learning about service learning or study abroad opportunities, or understanding their academic, counseling and health supports. If you have a disability, it may also be helpful to do some research about the supports and resources available. If you are really interested in the school, explore what they offer for summer programs.

Thinking of using family vacations in this way can be useful to students wherever they are in their high school career. As they get closer to graduation, making choices about colleges or other post-secondary options will take on a new reality, but even junior high and early high school students can start to think about their future. If you plan ahead as a family, you can visit several colleges over the years as part of your quality family time.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

Did you find this article useful?