Planning a college trip is daunting. There are many factors to consider, including cost, where to visit, and choosing colleges that “fit.” There is also the issue of managing all of the emotions that come up with teenagers while visiting colleges. Our biggest recommendation is to make sure students know that visiting colleges is not about picking your “dream college.” It’s about understanding:
- What is college?
- What do I want from college?
- What does college want from me?
When my students return from their trips, I ask them to debrief me on what they noticed and what they wondered. We try to stay away from black and white language like, “What did I like?” and “What did I not like?” (Click here Ethan Sawyers’s amazing Research Document)
Here are some tips to streamline your college visit planning process:
- Encourage your student to engage in the planning.
- Identify regions that includes clusters of schools (Northeast, Ohio, California).
- Check out Covid policies before booking travel.
- Avoid over-scheduling (students will often get visits confused).
- Create a balance of big, medium, and small schools.
- Create a balance between reach, possible, and likely schools (join our webinar next month on how to build a college list).
- Fill out all contact forms on the college website (this is key for demonstrating interest).
- Research the name of your regional representative (consider setting up a meeting when you are in town).
- Watch a virtual tour and information session before you visit to make the most efficient use of your time.
- Understand the different types of tours:
- Facilitated by current students or alumni.
- Can help you understand the social scene, school spirit, and overall fit.
- Provide insight into life outside of academics.
- Usually led by admissions counselors.
- Provide information on application requirements and admission expectations.
Covid did wonders for virtual tours and access to self-guided opportunities. A few of our favorites are the New York University and Claremont McKenna apps.