Just-Teens Travel


College Visits: Time to Travel

By Justine Seligson


I’m looking forward to traveling while in college. I definitely plan to take my junior year abroad. Right now I’ve got my eyes on the Middle East, although my interests may change by then. Who knows? Keeping an open mind is what college is all about.

I also hope to meet classmates who live either across the country, or across the world and who I can visit during school breaks.

I never expected that travel would be part of the fun of actually deciding what college to chose. I’m a high school junior. It’s currently second semester. These two things together can only mean one thing: college visits.

Earlier this year when I first started thinking of potential post-scollege visitsecondary institutions, I was kind of dreading the process. I mean who wants to spend their few breaks from school to look at schools? Also, how was I supposed to know what I wanted in a college?

It is months later now. I’ve officially visited eight colleges. My experience so far has been much more than what I could have ever imagined. I’ve gotten greater clarity as to what I look for in a college, but it goes beyond that.

Because I come from a travel-oriented family, these visits were more than just looking at campuses. They were travel experiences in themselves. How could I have been so surprised about this?

They ranged from going to a Pennsylvania school and then taking an Amish buggy ride in Penn-Dutch country to exploring a DC campus and revisiting the capital’s attractions we had gone to years ago. But it wasn’t just about traditional sightseeing. My college visits involved doing as the locals do. In Georgetown, this took the shape of standing in sub-zero degree temperatures for over an hour just so we could try DC Cupcakes. In Boston, it was all about figuring out how to get around on The T. And wherever we went, each food experience was a journey in itself. In DC, we ate in a President Lincoln-themed restaurant which had Lincoln pennies embedded in the floor and in Baltimore, we made it our morning’s mission to get to the Blue Moon Café to try its Red Velvet Pancakes (pictured below).

Justine Seligson photo
In simple terms, college visits offer an opportunity to venture into Americana. They are, essentially, domestic vacations that just happen to include universities as part of the visited monuments. I’m glad my family devoted a large amount of our vacation time doing local, but non-college related activities.

In contrast to my personal experience, I recently heard of another high school junior who was visiting eight schools in four days.

What? How? Why? I mean come on!

Not only are two colleges per day a mentally draining process, but also what is the point of visiting these schools if you’re not going to spend any time in the areas around them? Especially since that particular place could very well be your home for four years of your life, you need to know about its context and whether it will suit you well.

The way I see it is that college visits are travel opportunities we can all take advantage of. That way, we’re not wasting time if we decide—after visiting—that we’re not interested in applying to certain ones. In the process, we will have learned about another city, another town, another little piece of American life. In other words, we’re getting an education before we even get there. Talk about extra credit.

About Justine Seligson: Just-Teens Travel columnist

Justine Seligson


Justine Seligson, our teen columnist and photographer, is a high school student. Justine started her Just-Teens Travel column providing teen insights, ideas and advice for students (and their parents) when she was in 7th grade.

At 14 years old, Justine won the Cynthia Mullins Award in Youth Photography at the Annual Juried Student Exhibition at Silvermine School of Art in New Canaan, CT. She has also been published on National Geographic's Intelligent Travel blog. See her piece here.



If you would like to suggest topics--or contribute a teen travel piece--e-mail Justine.

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