The Best Time for College Tours

Ahhh. Spring Break. What a great time of year. Especially if college visits are on your mind.There is virtually no better time to visit a college campus than during spring break. Your child is off for the week. The weather is warming up. And most colleges will be in session. (Unless they are on spring break as well.)

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for putting together a successful multi-college campus tour.

Create a plan: As the great oilman T. Boone Pickens says, “a fool with a plan is better than a genius with none.”  I am a huge believer in planning ahead.  Especially when it affects some of life’s most important decisions. And the college selection process is one of those. So take the time to put a plan of where, when, and what you’ll be doing over the 2, 3, or even 4-day trip.

Put together an itinerary:  Make sure and map out the colleges you plan to visit by using MapQuest or Google Maps to get an exact idea how long it will take to get to each college on your tour. Taking into account any campus guided tour and information session times before you schedule anything.  Don’t assume there will always be someone available at the college to give you a tour.  Most schools have selected times and limits to how many families can go on those tours. And some don’t offer tours on certain weekends. Call ahead and reserve your tour times as far in advance as possible.

Build in free time:  Make sure to check out the surrounding areas of the college.  And mix in some fun family activities while you’re at it. A lot of families make this a mini-vacation. Why not?

Getting a feel for the city or town’s restaurants, sites, and local college hangouts will give your child a feel for the social aspect of that college.  And don’t forget, the social aspect of college is a big deal.

I’ve shared this before, but it bears repeating. There are 3 major factors to selecting the right college.  The right college will be a good fit…

  1. Financially
  2. Academically
  3. Socially

If anyone of those is missing, the chances for getting in and out of college in four years or less drops dramatically.

The social aspect is important. And the campus tour is arguably the best time for your child to get a feel for how they will fit in.

Dress the part:  Wear shoes that are comfortable and good for walking. You will walk a ton. Students should dress nicely but don’t need to overdress. Jackets, ties, and fancy dresses aren’t necessary.

Take notes:  A multi-college tour can leave a kid’s head spinning. By taking detailed notes as you go along, you’ll be able to more objectively look back on the pros and cons of each college visit. Include photos in your data gathering.

Also, make sure you have a list of questions you want to have answered as you conduct each college tour. The Questions To Ask On College Campus Tours report I created recently will be of some help…

Until next time,

Jodi Polster
Education Director, CollegeMadeSimple.com

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1 Comment

gila ahdootMarch 19th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I love your inputs and practicle ideas that you offer us because we parents feel more afraid and in doubt than our children. Thank you

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

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