Parent's role in college visits

Juniors: A "practice" visit at a local college


Fall break coming up? Or a long weekend? Do a test-run visit at a local college. College visits provide crucial information for making a good match between you and a school. And at this point, you don't have to venture far. Visits to any campus can help you zero in on what's important to you. So take the tour at a college within driving distance -- even if you aren't considering applying there. You'll experience a tour and a group information session (if offered, not all colleges do) so that you get a sense of a college visit. A "practice" visit like this will help you make good firsthand evaluations later, when you visit the colleges in which you are most interested.

For more on college visits, including campus visit etiquette, getting off the beaten track to learn more about a school, and questions to ask tour guides and admission officers, see Chapter 9, "College Visits," in College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step.

The College Road Trip

Many of you are heading out on your first college road trips. Here coauthor Christine VanDeVelde remembers her first college visits with her daughter: A few years ago, my daughter and I ventured forth on a short tour.  We managed to walk the Vanderbilt campus in Nashville, Tennessee, in the middle of what they call a “dogwood winter” – the trees are blossoming as temperatures plummet. We then flew north to Chicago, just in time for an epic snowstorm that closed O’Hare for a day and a half. After trudging along the campus on the edge of Lake Michigan in ballet flats, we holed up in an Evanston hotel, bundled in our new Northwestern sweats watching Pay-per-View movies. My husband took the next trip that summer – Lehigh, Yale, Boston University, Dartmouth, and Cornell -- where they had to buy new shoes to accommodate  the amount of walking they did but enjoyed much better weather and a side trip to Legally Blonde on Broadway. Despite blisters, traffic jams and inclement weather, we found these road trips to be peak parenting experiences – some of the most memorable and enjoyable times we have spent with our daughter.