Many families who take their teen on campus visits, usually visit several colleges at once to make the most of their time away. While it may save time to do these marathon visits, seeing several colleges in a 3-5 day time span can be draining. (Been there, done that!) Here are my top 5 tips for a stress-free campus visit:
- Avoid bringing friends or others who may influence your teen’s perspective. It can be a distraction. Sometimes, you may not have a choice in whether you bring your teen’s best friend, family members or a neighbor. I understand so . . . keep reading to tip #2.
- Take separate tours. For some campuses, there may be more than one tour guide, especially when you visit during their busy summer or fall months. If you have choice I would encourage you to go with a different guide than your teen. The tour guides bring their own unique experiences and backgrounds to the tour. You may hear different facts and figures about a campus that you can compare with your teen later. Also, when your teen follows a separate tour guide, it gives them the freedom to reflect and take in the tour for themselves, or ask questions that they not ask in front of you! 🙂
- Attend the information session even if you think there’s nothing new to learn. There will be some nuances that you will learn during the information session that for whatever reason, you haven’t already read or heard before. (I do these tours year round and some colleges I’ve visited 2-3 times. Each time, I learn something totally new.) Foregoing the information session compromises the purpose of visiting the campus.
- Avoid dominating the Q&A session. Most information sessions will have a Q&A session. It’s OK to ask 1 or 2 questions, but please avoid asking too many questions. If you’re on a separate tour, perhaps that’s a time to ask additional questions in private. I would especially discourage you from asking a lot of questions of the admissions officer. That’s what your teen should be doing!
- Check out the neighborhood surrounding the college campus. If there’s time, you may want to walk through the nearby “town” area, check out a restaurant or browse the retail shops. When your teen goes away to college, it will be their home away from home so they should feel comfortable either on campus or off. If you are concerned about safety in the area, I would also even suggest checking out the area at night.
Ultimately, the campus visit is about your teen . . . from making the reservation to deciding to apply or not. These tips are meant to keep the focus on them, their reflections and impressions.
How were your visits? Where did you go and for how long??