While most of you have been traveling for pleasure this summer, I am ending my summer with a completed checklist of college visits. It is a total different type of travel for sure! It can be hot, stressful, relentless and repetitive. Here are my tips to survive and make the most out of a summer of college visits.
Construction will be everywhere in the summer! Roadways from large to small will be under construction so be prepared and plan your travels accordingly. Campuses are under construction as well.
Somehow it seems that every college or university has a “squirrel watching club”. Some even have clubs that watch the squirrel watching club. I have no idea if these are real, but they seem to think that mentioning this on the tour will actually persuade your student to attend their school.
Do Not Take the Entire Family
With my own family, I found that when we all went it was distracting and hard for her to fully focus on the school. Also, if other families are touring with their extended family you may be in the presence of siblings that do not want to be there and are not paying attention to where they are walking because they are on their phone.
Get an Interview
While you are there anyway, set up an interview. Especially for schools high on your students list, this will emphasize your interest in their school. In addition, the school will get to know your child even better which is always helpful!
Whether you look near or far, be sure to think about how your student will get home. If close, you may just plan on driving them back and forth. If far away, it is a little trickier. It may involve planes, trains, busses and automobiles. Explore the options so that you know and are comfortable with the options.
Stay in The Heart of It
Be sure to stay in the heart of the area as close to campus as possible, even if it is a little more expensive. This will give you and your student a chance to really explore the area and campus and get the overall environmental feeling.
Bundle – But Not Too Much
Plan to see as many schools as you can with each trip. Doing them one by one is ok, but it’s nice to check them off while you are on a roll. Take a few days and see the colleges in a certain area. Do not, however, see two schools in one day. Seeing just one is exhausting and you definitely won’t get as much out of the second in one day. During each visit, be sure to schedule tours and/or appointments with the departments in which your student is interested in pursuing classes. This will help later when deciding which school to attend.
Take Pictures & Notes
If you are like us, you may have a long list of schools to check out. Make sure you take pictures to help remember the campuses. I do not recommend taking notes on everything, but it is helpful to take notes on what you like best about the school. Every college application asks about why you have chosen their school and details will make your response stand out.
Trust Your Gut
Pay attention to your comfort level and feelings while on campus. Not only does your student need to be able to see themselves there, you need to feel comfortable that your child will be happy and safe.
Enjoy Your Time Together
Although your teen will probably be doing some eye rolling at you throughout your travels, remember to enjoy the time together. Soon everything will change and this time will be a sweet memory. Use your time in the car to discuss application essay ideas and to make plans for senior year. Focus on and listen to your students hopes, dreams and worries. Fit in some fun and check out restaurants, entertainment and sports teams in the areas you visit.
I seriously do not know where the time has gone, but I do know this is going to be one crazy and exciting year. Once again time has gone too fast, but I have enjoyed every moment of my time with my daughter on these college visits. Sometimes with teenagers, you just can’t tell what they are thinking or feeling. Although you sure know when you are annoying them! Throughout the trip I was annoying, embarrassing and silly – am I really that uncool? Hopefully she will look back at that as a good thing and cherish this special time we had together. I know I will.
10 Key Places to See on College Tours - US News & World Report
The 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America - Conde Naste Traveler