College Visit Tips

Photo Credit: Ed Uthman

Teens often view college visits as vacations, while parents view them as travel with a purpose: to choose the best school for their child. Sure, it can be an adventure, but all of the necessary information about the college needs to collected and the local area checked out. Here are the top five ways to make the most of your college visit:

1. Visit while school is in session – Find out in advance when spring break, summer break and other long holidays take place. Sometimes, exams and big football games can cause the campus to be quiet. It’s hard to get a real feel for the school when there aren’t many students on campus.

2. Take both an official and unofficial visit – You can set up an official visit through the school’s administrative office. It often includes a group meeting by a school’s representative with other student visitors, a guided tour of the campus, a question and answer session with the admissions office, and possibly other types of meetings and tours. An unofficial visit is when you take the reins. You can speak informally to students, eat in the dining hall, visit departments that your teen is interested in and look around on your own. Either do both on the same day if you have time and energy or add on an extra day just for these activities.

3. Be sure you take time to see the local area around the campus – Your teenager needs to feel comfortable with his surroundings. Campus isn’t the end all of college and one day he may live off the university grounds.

4. Prepare before you leave home – Research along with your daughter about each school she is interested in. Visit the colleges’ websites, research reports and rankings for the schools and its faculty, and learn about scholarships and financial aid. Then make a list of the top colleges. Research those again to narrow them down. Make a list of exactly what you want to see, who you want to speak to and questions you want to ask.

5. Create a college visit vacation – Instead of visiting one college at a time, try to tour the ones that are closest to each other. Or, take a road trip and stop along the way for college visits. Take time to do some sightseeing, take photos and – most importantly – talk about the schools you’ve visited.

The decision on which college to attend is the main goal of a college visit. A great deal goes into that choice. When you make the most of your college visit, the process goes a lot smoother.

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