WASHINGTON – It was only Tuesday, but Aaron Shapiro was already tired as he schlepped across the Goucher College campus.
The Sherwood High School senior had already visited one campus and still had two to go — in New York and Pennsylvania — before his weeklong spring break was over.
And Shapiro was not alone this week: Colleges around Maryland say spring break is one of their busiest times for college tours, as high school juniors and seniors take the opportunity for a first-hand look at campuses.
“This week has been particularly busy,” said Trisha Gregory, director of admission at Frostburg University. “There are several county systems that are on spring break.”
Admissions officials at Towson University agreed that high school spring breaks are “one of the busiest times of the year.” Towson admissions assistant Veronica Murphy said that on Thursday, the college “had about 30 families at our 11 (a.m.) tour, and that is a lot for one time slot.”
Linda Lewis, a guidance counselor at Elkton High School, said that spring break is simply a convenient time for parents and students to go see colleges.
“During spring break, a lot of them (students) don’t have anything to do and parents know about it ahead of time,” she said.
It is also a good time for prospective students to visit, since most colleges are in session during the high school spring breaks and the campuses are busier than they would be during a summer or winter visit. Lewis added that visiting during their high school’s spring break also gives students the chance to sit in on classes and meet professors.
She said it is important for high school students to go on a college tour, because they can learn a lot about the school just by being there. In addition to considering cost, size and the types of academic programs offered, Lewis said high school students should look at the region of the country and consider whether they will be comfortable.
A tour is one of the best ways to do that.
Most college tours have a few standard ingredients: an information session and a walking tour that showcases the campus’s academic buildings, dormitories, and dining halls.
Shapiro’s Goucher College tour was no different. It was led by a backwards-walking freshman in a blue-and-gold-striped rugby shirt with the Goucher College logo, brown corduroys and tennis shoes. A “Welcome to Goucher” lanyard was swinging from her neck.
The Goucher tour guide pointed out bits of campus trivia — the tree with a tire swing that was reportedly put up by the first male student at the formerly all-girls’ school, as a surprise for his girlfriend — and showed prospective students and their parents a dorm room, classrooms, the gym and the library.
Shapiro, 18, tagged along but he said he was not as enthusiastic as he had been on an earlier visit to Washington University.
On that visit, he was “walking around, shaking hands with people and introducing myself.” On Tuesday, he lagged a few steps behind his sister and mother, who asked most of the questions.
“I don’t know. Maybe I’m tired,” said Shapiro, who had trips scheduled to Syracuse University and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh later in the week.
When he did muster a question, he asked about class size and academic offerings. He said the emphasis on buildings and facilities that is the staple of the college tour is not what will be important in his decision.
“I am looking to be impressed by the people” he said, before going to catch up with his mother as she quizzed the tour guide.
-30- CNS 04-01-05