Monday, January 7, 2019

Plan Ahead to Guarantee a Productive Spring Break

This is the time of year – with the winter holidays a fond memory and mid-term exams looming in the near future – that students start dreaming about spring break.  While spring break is a much-needed respite to escape the academic pressures of the school year, it’s also the ideal time to visit colleges and start to identify which schools may, or may not, be potential “good fit” colleges.

Typically, colleges schedule their spring breaks in early March, while high schools hold them a little later.  This year, most local high schools have scheduled their spring break for mid to late April to coincide with the Easter and Passover holidays.  High school students therefore have the perfect opportunity to tour college campuses while classes, activities, and college life are in full swing.  By doing so, college bound students can get a good feel for a college and assess whether it meets their academic, social, and lifestyle preferences.

If parents are available during a student’s spring break, it’s an ideal time for a road trip to visit out-of-town colleges.  The vast majority of students attend college within five hours of home, so the destination does not need to be a far off locale.  If a student dreams of attending a big city school, then a tour of colleges in the Boston or Washington D.C. areas may prove fruitful.  If a student prefers a more suburban or rural environment, then a drive through Pennsylvania provides the option of touring close to 100 different colleges and universities.

Students who are on their own during spring break can still put the week to great use. By visiting two of New Jersey’s highly-ranked schools, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and Rutgers University, students can quickly come to the realization of the type of college they prefer.  

TCNJ hosts about 6,500 students on a tranquil, suburban campus.  The school’s most popular majors are Teacher Education, Business, and Biological Sciences, and almost all classes have 25 or fewer students.

Rutgers University in New Brunswick is home to more than 35,000 students in a distinctly urban setting.  The list of majors is almost limitless, and class size can exceed 300 students. 

Students visiting both of these colleges/universities seldom like them equally.  They usually find themselves drawn to one atmosphere over the other, and can use this self-awareness in choosing other colleges to visit in the future.  For example, students who like TCNJ often find Villanova and Lehigh universities to be appealing.  Those who prefer Rutgers often look favorably upon Penn State and New York University (NYU).

Susan Alaimo is the founder of SAT Smart. For the past 25 years, SAT Smart’s Ivy League educated tutors have prepared students for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, Subject Tests, AP courses, and all high school subjects. Visit or call 908-369-5362.

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