If the summer is the only time that aligns with a family’s schedule, I say: Go. Go when you can and don’t worry about visiting a buzzy campus. Why?
Students and Faculty
They’ll be around. Maybe not in droves and maybe not as obvious as during the academic year, but when visiting Vanderbilt University’s campus in the summer, I had one of the best impromptu conversations with a professor that I’ve ever had. At University of Michigan, I found a gaggle of students chatting and politely interrupted them to find out why they were on campus in the summer (taking classes and doing internships/research with a professor) and why they loved the school so much. Again, a wonderfully informative encounter without the stress of a school year pressing them to run along to class!
Buildings are still open and staff is still working, so gaining access to both is easy. At University of Washington, housed in a cool subterraneous space in the Arts Building, I visited Parnassus, the oldest café on campus and one of the oldest coffee shops in Seattle (who knew?). I wouldn’t have found this on a traditional tour and without the help of a wonderful engineering student who talked to me for quite a while about his life at UW. This chance encounter was fruitful for its insight into campus culture and academic offerings – and of course for the cappuccino with an extra shot.
I just reassured a family that visiting an empty campus is an opportunity to download the campus app or print a paper map and wander freely, but also a chance to let conversations between a student and their parent(s) or guardian wander freely. Once I had a parent text me that their student no longer wanted to attend a city campus which was #1 on his school list “must-have” criteria. This decision came to the student when the family was relaxed and under the spell of leisure induced by a summer college visit.