Following a few tips that have helped make our numerous college visits positive and successful:
Let Your Teen set the Pace
Once you get to campus, take a back seat. Under no circumstances should you act like the infamous helicopter parent! The experts say, and I wholeheartedly agree, that the best way you can help your teen is by staying quiet and taking notes. The exception to this is if you hear about or see something that your child may not have noticed that you feel would really enhance their visit, like the opportunity to sit in on an academic class or watch an Aeronautics Club fly their model plane. That’s your chance to speak up!
Paying attention to little details like getting accurate directions and finding out where to park ahead of time make a big difference.
Dress in layers with the weather in mind. Wear comfortable walking shoes and don’t forget an umbrella or sun hat, depending on the time of year.
My boys and I like to carry a backpack with water bottles, a few healthy snacks, a little cash and a credit card, pens, and a notebook in it. This also gives you a place to store the information folders and handouts you pick up along the way.
Look at Everything
Taking a guided tour will give you the opportunity to learn a lot about the campus. However if your prospective freshman has a specific interest (like my music major did) than it’s important to see if there are facilities like a music library and what the performance hall and practice rooms look like. You’ll also want to use the bathrooms, eat the food, check out the laundry facilities, and look at the student lounges, all important places that may not be included on a regular tour.
Picking up both a campus and a local newspaper to read along with any free publications that are available will give you all a good feel for the area culture and how your son or daughter might fit in there. I also take a few minutes to read the fliers on the bulletin boards as we walk around campus to see what kind of club, activities, and special events are available for students.
Most colleges are very welcoming to their high school visitors and parents. No question is too “silly”; admissions staff and tour guides have heard it all! If your teen thinks of something after they return home, encourage them to follow up by emailing or phoning the school .
Last stop-check out the surrounding community.