Spring is in the air and families across the country are gearing up for college campus visits. The transition from high school to college is extremely stressful for kids and parents, but putting a solid plan in place can really ease the tension. The first step is deciding which colleges to apply to. But before taking the time (and spending the money) to apply to schools, it’s a good idea for students to visit a variety of campuses to determine which are the best fit for them and their family.

Whether you’ve got your heart set on your dad’s alma mater or a list of top dream schools, the importance of a campus visit is invaluable. Schools that look good on paper don’t always translate to on-campus. When actually visiting schools you learn important things about the culture and it’s the only way to really get a feel for what it would be like to attend this school.

The formative college years are instrumental in your child’s future, making finding the right one extremely important. But don’t stress! We have put together a list of dos and don’ts to abide by so that your campus visits are successful.

Dos and don’ts for college visits

1. See a variety of colleges. Visit public, private, big and small schools. Stay open minded – even if these colleges are not your first choice, it will give you an idea of the options available to you. And you never know, after visiting you might change your mind about what your first choice school is. 

2.  Do research before you go. Map out a plan of must see spots on campus. If you’re planning to major in chemistry, visit the chemistry building. Visit dorms, the bookstore, the tutoring center and dining halls.

Choosing the Right College Starts with a Successful Campus Visit
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3. Make appointments. Try to meet with the people who can answer your important questions like the dean, counselor, financial aid office, coaches or instructors.

3. Visit when school is in session. This will give you a more realistic picture of the campus culture and whether it is a fit for you.

4. Bring a checklist. During the campus visit, take note of the size of the campus, academics, majors, athletics and activities.

5. Sign-up for the campus tour. Come prepared with questions such as:

  • “Which majors are impacted?” and “do you give merit aid?’ 
  • You can also arrange to sit in on a class, and possibly spend the night in a dorm.

6. Most importantly have fun.  College visits should be a fun learning experience.

What you don’t do while visiting schools is just as important as what you do. Here are some important things to avoid on campus tours:

1. Do not visit more than 2 schools per day.  Overbooking can be stressful for both parents and students.

2.  Don’t limit yourself to visiting just your Dream Schools.  Plan on visiting colleges that are realistic for your family financially and where you have a realistic chance of getting in. 

3.   Parents don’t do all the talking.  Students need to see the colleges through their own eyes.  Allow students to tour the campus by themselves at some point in the visit.

4.  Parents don’t buy the t-shirt or bumper sticker just yet.  This puts undue pressure on the student.

5.  Follow up. Don’t forget to send a thank you email to the admissions office after the tour, especially if it is at the top of your list.

Of course you’ll have your own personal list of requirements for the college of your dreams, but we hope this helps narrow it down. Most importantly, be on the lookout for things that are important to you that will affect how you learn and get along with other students. There are so many colleges, with a bit of planning and research you’re bound to find one that’s the right fit for you.

About the Author:

Mandy GinsbergMandy Ginsberg is the CEO of Tutor.com, the world’s largest and highest-rated online tutoring company with a community of more than 3,000 expert tutors, and over 10 million one-to-one online tutoring sessions served. Professional tutors are available 24/7 in 40 plus subjects, including AP courses and SAT test prep. Ninety percent of students who use Tutor.com get better grades, feel more confident and complete their homework on time.

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