LC Hanby Hudgens is a part-time high school teacher and a freelance writer. She lives with her husband, her four children, and her chickens on a buffalo farm in the Ozark Hills. Her work can be found on Scary Mommy Club Mid, Grown and Flown, HuffPost Parents, and her blog, Charming Farming. Find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
A campus visit is not only a great way for a high school student to explore a college.
It can also be fun for both teens and parents and a great way to spend time together during this busy time in your child’s life. To make your student’s college visit as informative and enjoyable as possible, here are a few tips for parents and students.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Some campus tours involve a great deal of walking. It’s hard to take in all the sites and information if your feet are killing you.
- Let your teen do (most of) the talking. You will likely have a lot of questions, but letting your child take the lead when it comes to gathering information will be good practice and a confidence booster for the days ahead when they are on their own. Just be sure to discuss this with your student ahead of time, so they know what you expect. And of course, don’t be afraid to speak up if some of your questions are going unasked or unanswered.
- Make plans to extend your stay so that you can check out the area. Don’t just check out the campus. Take time to explore the greater community. Where will you stay when you visit? Will your child like the area? Consider what makes a great college town and what’s important to you and your child in a community.
- Take note of travel time and expenses. A college road trip can be a fun way to bond with your teen. But keep in mind that the trip might be considerably less fun three or four times a year, especially if it is a costly trip.
- Arrange a meeting with the financial aid department. No matter how much you and your child like a college, it won’t matter if you can’t afford it because you’ve been hit by surprise fees and expenses or because you don’t take advantage of available financial aid. The College Board’s website, Big Future provides a list of questions to ask your college’s financial aid officer. These questions will help you obtain the information you need so that you can make an informed financial decision.
- Do your homework. Visit the college’s website before your actual tour to see if there are any specific buildings, programs, or features you would like to see or speak with someone about.
- Work with your parents in advance to come up with questions to ask during your college visit. US News and World Report has a great list of questions to get you started. Also, think about your specific interests, goals, and needs, and be sure you ask questions specific to your major or field of interest.
- Let the college know in advance who you would like to speak to while you’re there. Guidance counselors, professors, and current students are all helpful sources of information who can offer different insights about the college. Also, consider asking to speak with the leaders or directors of organizations or services that are important to you and your parents. Do you have special health or dietary needs that you would like to speak with someone about? Are you interested in getting involved with a campus club, organization, or ministry? Does Greek life interest you? A campus tour is a great time to get to know some people who can help you get connected if you attend that college in the future.
- Be sure you visit more than one dorm. A residence hall tour is a fairly common feature during most campus visits. Just be sure that you are seeing a dorm that is available to all freshmen and not just the honors dorm or upperclassmen residence hall.
- Look for information all over campus. Don’t just rely on your tour guide to find out what campus life is like. Grab a copy of the college newspaper. Look a yearbook. Check out bulletin boards and read flyers. These are great ways to find out what issues are important on campus and what activities are available to students.
A campus tour is probably the best way to get a feel for a particular college and for your child to know if it is the right college for them. A college trip can also be a fun experience to have with your child before they move on to the next phase in life.
The best way to get the most out of a college visit is to plan ahead.