As you’re busy planning your itinerary and packing suitcases for college visits, it’s easy to forget what to actually do on your visits to make them successful.
What makes a college visit successful is doing the very things that your child would be doing every day as a student there. In other words, spend a day in the life of a student on that college campus. The majority of these activities will be available through the admissions office, but if they’re not, go on your own “unofficial” tour after going through the campus visit program.
• Talk to current students. Ask them questions about their experience as a student – their likes, dislikes, favorite activities and campus spots. Feel free to talk to students hosting the campus tour and other students hanging out on campus.
• Visit a class. Most colleges will offer a class visit or can arrange one for your child if it’s not advertised. If your child has an academic area in which she’s interested in majoring, then you should do your best to sit in on a class in that department.
• Eat in a dining hall and do some people watching. You can not only get a taste for the campus food, but also observe the student life and culture during a short lunch.
• Talk to faculty members. Feel free to have your child politely drop by the department in which he or she is interested. If there’s a faculty member available to speak with, it can be a great way to learn more about the academic opportunities available to students.
• Go off-campus and explore the surrounding community. This will be your child’s home for the next four years (or longer) so it’s important that he or she feel comfortable in the greater community.
Lastly, if you’ll be visiting many different schools, don’t forget to encourage your child to take notes. At the end of a long college trip, things can feel like a blur – even the colleges your child loved. Writing down highlights can help your child reflect on the school visits – and might serve as inspiration for a great college essay in the future!