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Spring Break Tips: Visiting College Campuses

Spring Break Tips: Visiting College Campuses

Spring is an optimal time for you and your family—especially your high schoolers—to visit college campuses! College visits are also helpful for children of any age, even elementary school students! It’s never too early to encourage them to begin thinking about college. Checking out different colleges can cultivate an early interest in your children and encourage them to dream early.

With that in mind, we have come up with some answers to common questions about planning college visit trips.

 

When is a good time to visit?

It’d be good to visit while the university is in session, so during your child’s spring break is a good option. Try to go during the weekday so that you and your family can get an actual feel for what that college is like during the daytime. Times to avoid are holidays, school breaks, and exam times. 

 

Where should we start?

Make a list together with your child of all the colleges he or she would like to visit. It’s a good idea to try to visit campuses that are near each other so that you can visit multiple places in one day and cut down on travel times.

Next, contact the admissions offices of the various colleges to schedule college campus tours. Bring some comfortable walking shoes to prepare yourself for a day of walking around and exploring the campus. Have many questions prepared about the university to ask on the tour; often, the tour guides are students themselves, so feel free to ask them about their own experiences. Take this time to ask questions that you may not readily find on the college’s website. The following are some question ideas. For more examples, check out articles from The Spruce and BigFuture

  • Is this a commuter college, or do students hang around on the weekend? What did your tour guide do last weekend? And on other weekends? How often does your tour guide and his or her friends go home?
  • What's the best class or most inspiring professor your tour guide ever had? Why? How well does your tour guide know his or her professors?
  • Why did your tour guide choose this college? What was the most difficult thing to get used to at the college?

 

Let your teenager lead.

Parents, when you’re on a college tour with your teenager, let your child do most of the talking. Letting teenagers ask the questions will be good practice for them and help them take ownership over this process of choosing the right college for them. Discuss what kinds of questions to ask with your child in advance so that you two can be on the same page while you’re there.

 

What else should I find out?

It’s important to be able to find time to walk outside of the campus and check the surrounding areas. What kind of neighborhood is the school in? Urban, suburban, rural? Ask your tour guide or other students on campus where students like to hang out, where they typically study, and what recommendations for lunch or dinner they have. Getting a better feel for student life in and around campus will give a better picture of what it would be like to go to school there. Some other areas to visit include the residential halls (student dorms), the dining commons, and the student center. If you’re feeling up for it, sit in on a class lecture and talk to the professor afterward!

 

Have fun!

If the college is near a big city, be sure to stop by and check out the local city attractions. For example, if you’re on the West Coast checking out the different college campuses in the Bay Area, be sure to stop by San Francisco or Silicon Valley and explore places to not only hang out but also future areas for job/career and internship opportunities. Most of all, have fun and enjoy the visit with your family while you’re there.

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