Planning on-campus visit arrangements for your trip will be vital to keeping things on an even keel and keeping stress at bay. Remember that many other parents and students will also be attending college tours at the same time, so it is important to get your itinerary set as soon as possible.
You will set up appointments with academic advisors, financial aid counselors, department chairs, athletic coaches and others, according to the goals that your child has set and the ‘musts’ that he or she has already determined (see our blog post Creating a List of Musts). When scheduling, I find that the easiest place to start is by registering for the group information session and the group campus tour. Then you can work to plan your other arrangements around those two events. Everything may fall perfectly into place—or it may not. You may find that the schedules of some of the people do not coincide with what you’ve already planned, and you’ll have to reschedule one of the group events. This is one of the reasons why I always urge people to plan as far in advance as possible—making these arrangements can be quite time-consuming—almost like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle.
Where do you start to make these arrangements? These days, with a few exceptions, you can register for the group events online. In most cases, when visiting a college’s website, you’ll want to start by visiting the ‘Admissions’ or ‘Admissions and Financial Aid’ page. There you’ll usually find a ‘Visit’ or ‘Visit Us’ page. This page will list a calendar of admissions events and you will be able to choose the times that work best for you. Keep in mind that February through April are the busiest months for college visits and you do run the risk of some of these time slots being full. My suggestion is to leave yourself at least two to three weeks to schedule these events.
If you’re planning to schedule meetings with professors, check first with the admissions office to see if they handle those arrangements. If they don’t, you will need to call the undergraduate academic department on your own. If you search the specific department page, you should be able to find a listing of department faculty and staff. Reach out to a department administrator or coordinator or directly to the chair of the department. The easiest way to communicate is usually by email. If you do not hear back within a few days, follow up with a phone call or a reminder email. Keep in mind that sometimes it will take quite a while before you actually secure an appointment time. And in some cases, if a professor is not available, you may have to reach out to another department that is of interest to your teen.
I contact athletic coaches in much the same way. If you do not reach the coach or assistant coach after a week or two, you might try to reach out to the athletic director. Keep in mind that if you are looking at schools in a different time zone, that you will have to consider the time difference when you are making your calls.
If you have the time and your trip coincides with the days and dates that they are offered, schedule an overnight stay for your teen. It is a great way to learn more about life on campus—experiencing dorm life, tasting the food and checking out the food choices, interacting with current students in a non-academic environment, etc. When doing your planning, either check the ‘visit’ page or call the admissions office to find out more about when each school offers this opportunity. Organized visits are almost always scheduled through the admissions office. Usually, overnights are reserved for seniors and are offered on specific days of the week. Make sure to call about these arrangements no later than two weeks before the date you hope to visit. If you can’t schedule an organized overnight, perhaps there is a friend that is a current student on campus that would be willing to host your teen for a night.
If there’s time during your visit you should also try to schedule a class visit. At most schools, the best days for class visits are Monday through Thursday. Not as many course choices are available on Fridays and some schools, like NYU, do not even offer the option on Fridays. Again, check the ‘visit’ section of the website. Some colleges post the classes that prospective students may visit on their website. Others have a list in the admissions office. Some require visitors to sign up in advance and at others you can make the decision upon arrival. At many schools, the class visit option is available for the student only, so you may have a chance to check out an area of campus that is of specific interest to you.
No doubt there is a lot of work involved in planning a campus tour road trip, and making the customized on-campus arrangements do take a lot of time. But, they are the crux of the trip! By allowing your teen to experience the ‘musts’ on his list, he, as well as you, will come away from the trip with a great sense of culture of the community of each college that you visit.
The post Part 4 – Planning On-Campus Visit Arrangements appeared first on Custom College Visits.
After your teen has set goals for each of her college visits, the next natural step is mapping out your college tour travel route. The goals that you have set—what she would like to see and do—will give you a starting point toward determining how long you will need to be on each campus without having to rush the process. In addition, there are several other important factors to take into consideration before beginning to plan the actual trips.
Perhaps the most important aspect is to start the planning process as far in advance as possible. This will allow you to make any necessary or unforeseen changes to your itinerary and allow you the lead-time necessary to make the arrangements that you and your teen have decided upon for each college visit. Advance planning will also allow you the most flexibility when making your travel arrangements.
One of the first things that you may want to do is to help your child prioritize the colleges on her list. This will give you a jumping-off point when it comes to deciding where to begin and end your route. For instance, you can then look at the location of the various schools that your child wants to visit. If possible, you may want to visit a few that are relatively close to each other within the same trip to cut down on travel time and expense. Since the number of universities and the distance between locations will impact both the family budget and the length of each trip, determining how you will divide up the travel should be the first order of business.
Once you and your student have determined some possible dates, make sure to then check the academic and event calendars for each university. There may be events that your student would like to participate in to give them a better feel for the community. These might include sporting events, concerts, lectures or theatre productions. Conversely, there may be times when students are on break or it’s reading period, which could make the trip much less successful. You may need to adjust your route according to the best on-campus visit days for your particular needs.
As you can see, there are many decisions to be made; considering all of the possibilities will assist you in coming up with a plan that works best for your student and for your family.
The purpose of visiting colleges is to determine where your child will best fit in and be happy both academically and socially, so visits need to go beyond taking the scheduled group tour and information session at each university. To this end, setting specific goals ahead of time of what to see and do while on campus will go a long way toward helping them make the best choice. No matter if your student is just beginning to look into colleges or if they are at the stage where it is time to make the final decision, having them think about what aspects of college life might be most important to them, will help them make the best use of each visit.
They should first ask themselves what majors they are interested in. Or if they aren’t sure about a major (which is the case for many entering freshmen), what disciplines do they find fascinating? Narrowing down their choices somewhat will give them an idea of where they should concentrate their time while on campus. It will narrow down the academic departments they will want to visit and the classes they should sit in on. It also affords them the lead-time to schedule meetings with various professors in those departments. These are marvelous ways of getting a first-hand feel for how each program works and the types of programs that each discipline offers.
Next, encourage your child to consider their top “musts”—aspects of college life that they don’t want to miss out on. This can be anything from the ranking of the basketball team to the weather in the area. College life is about much more than academics, so while this line of questioning may feel trivial, it isn’t! They can’t learn and perform well or engage in the community if they are unhappy.
I advise preparing a simple worksheet for your teen with some pertinent questions. It doesn’t have to be lengthy to the point of becoming tedious—just two pages or so. As I do with my students, be sure to let them know that this worksheet is specifically to help them explore more about what they might be looking for in a college community and what type of school they think might appeal to them. Questions might include:
Once your teen has an initial list of “musts,” you will know what arrangements need to be made and it will be easier for you to plan each campus visit. Plans may include visits to the sporting arenas, talking to current students about the weather and popular activities, and trying local restaurants. Most important, make time in the trip to explore the various ways that your child’s “musts” can be met on each campus.
Although international study has been a part of the education scene for decades, the increase in study abroad programs has skyrocketed in recent years. Along with semester abroad programs, there are also countless camp and leadership programs that travel to points around the globe.
1. What discussions did you as parents have prior to your teen deciding to study overseas?
2. Would these discussions be different if your child was under/over 18?
3. What discussions did you have with your child?
4. What did you or your child ultimately decide?
Philip, like most teens, does not communicate much during his trips abroad, but I will update this blog if I feel it is relevant to the conversation. Thanks in advance for your response.
The following post is the first in a series that, over the next six weeks, will address the nuts and bolts of planning a college visit trip. Each week will feature a different aspect of planning—topics will include setting goals for your trip, how to go about making customized arrangements on campus, how to determine the best travel route, and how to keep track and manage all of the logistics. We will also share with you how to help your teen prepare for her time on campus. We hope you will find this information helpful and welcome any feedback you might have.
You may think of visiting colleges as merely an opportunity to see the places where your child is considering beginning their adult life, but college visits are much more than that!
These visits can, in fact, have a strong impact on the life path that your teen will choose. Research shows that they are the single most influential aspect of introducing students to college life, and the absolute best way to get a feel for each college that they are interested in. Visiting colleges should be considered a vital part in your child’s college selection process.
During these visits, your child can decide if they would fit in and enjoy an urban college or a rural one. They might also discover during these visits that while they thought they would be happiest in a large school, they actually prefer a small one.
After all, making a decision based on information from a college website and experiencing the campus firsthand are two very different things. The feel of the student and faculty interaction, the dorm facilities, the tastiness of the food and the choices available, and the importance that the university places on your child’s favorite sports or activities can all be much better assessed while being present on campus.
There are also peripheral perks to college visits. For example, some admissions officers might take into account interest shown by having visited campus, when making their final acceptance decisions. This truth demonstrates how powerful visits to prospective colleges can be. You may also find that the visits inspire your teen when it comes time for them to write their personal essays. Having been on campus and having gotten a feel for the community can assist in pinpointing aspects of how they could benefit from and be a benefit to the college collective.
Here’s a perk that most people don’t realize until after they return home from a series of college visits: while the college road trip is not what most of us think of as a typical vacation, it’s a chance for you and your teen to do things together, either one-on-one, or with the whole family. Getting away from the everyday routine and experiencing something out of the ordinary will undoubtedly bring about great conversations and wonderful memories.
No matter how varied the college options, it is important to visit as many of the campuses that you child is considering calling “home away from home” for several years. Even if the campus is close, and they feel as though they already know it because of proximity, they are probably not familiar with it it as a student who would be living and working there. Taking the time to visit prospective colleges is time well spent!