Dos and Don’ts of the College Visit

I frequently get asked questions about what to do on a college visit.   After working with loads of students and having my own personal experiences, I can honestly say that it depends on the teen.  Here are just a few general suggestions:

DO attend when school is in session if you can.

DO plan ahead for parking because college campuses are notorious for having limited parking.  Driving and parking on a college campus is tricky at times.  Allow for an extra 30  minutes to find your parking and to walk wherever your first meeting is going to be.

DO check the weather ahead of time because you are probably going to go on a tour-if there is a torrential downpour it will not be fun!

DO remember that this visit is about your teen and what is best for them.

DO remember to have a little fun-plan to go to a local restaurant or check out the student center on campus.

DO plan for a long day.

DO schedule the visit with the office of admissions (take the tour, meet with admissions and eat in the cafeteria).

DO prepare your teen for possible questions they might be asked.  The most common question is what they think they will major in.  If they don’t know, let them know it is ok to say that they are “undecided”.  That sounds a little better than the deer in the headlights nonresponse you are likely to get if you don’t prepare them!

DO bring a notebook to keep track of the names of people you meet, jot down notes, etc.  When you visit several campuses they can all start to blur together.

Finally, try to do the initial college visits early in the junior year to reduce stress.  Students and parents are preparing for a big transition and these early visits can cause stress.  Adding a deadline for applications and pressure to make a decision quickly is certain to make this worse.  The earlier you begin the process, the less stressful it will be.  Remind your student that they are not deciding where they will go to school during early visits, but instead getting a feel for the choices and beginning to form a list they would be willing to consider.

Good luck and have fun!

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