Spring Break Plans? Take a College Road Trip!

As a high school junior (or even sophomore), you may have little idea of where you want to go to school, or if you do, have merely an idea and little more evidence to backup why you do. You also may or may not be going back and forth with your parents about why you like or dislike a particular school, and they’re not buying it.

Fortunately, there is an easy, relatively affordable, painless way to settle many of these discussions and help set you up for happiness down the line while applying, hearing back, and choosing between schools.

And as you may have guessed from the title – it’s a college road trip! This road trip need not be expensive (although you certainly may make it so with an east coast tour), as one of the best set of college trips can be had relatively locally.


The purpose of a road trip

While you might be tempted to see every school you’re possibly interested in, the most important purpose is actually much simpler: you want to narrow down and expand your list as accurately and effectively as possible. In order to accomplish this, you’ll want to see a UC, a Cal State, and a small private liberal arts school. You may think you know you definitely want a UC (great education with a great price tag), but it is still advisable to formally visit each type of school (while in session) to really truly know.


Rules of the road trip

  1. 1. Try to only visit a school when school is in session, especially if it’s a small school. You will not get a true idea of what the community is really like if you don’t. (And then what’s the point of going to visit anyway?)
  2. 2. Do a formal visit. Sign up for the information session and tour, and actually go on it. You can always duck out of the tour if it’s too long or you’d rather check out another part of campus, but schools generally track who’s visited and who hasn’t, and you want them to know definitively that you saw the school if you did.
  3. 3. Bring a notebook to make notes on.  You may want to take notes on your phone, but you won’t be able to as quickly as you would on a real pad of paper, and you will almost certainly forget something important if you don’t take notes at all.
  4. 4. Don’t stop your parents from taking notes either! You may disagree with some of what they write, but it will be useful after the visit (or visits) to help both of you remember the schools afterwards.
  5. 5. Try to ask at least one student what their favorite part of going there is and what their least favorite part of going there is. You will almost certainly get a biased answer, but it may help you avoid a school where you clearly wouldn’t be happy.


Ideas for a road trip

  1. 1. Local: UCSD, USD, SDSU, Chapman
  2. 2. Los Angeles: Chapman, UC Irvine, LMU, USC, Cal Lutheran
  3. 3. Inland: Claremont Colleges (choose 2), Redlands University
  4. 4. Up The Coast: UCLA, Pepperdine, UCSB, Cal Poly SLO
  5. 5. Northern CA:  UCSC, Santa Clara University, SFSU, UC Davis

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