Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Making the Most of College Tours
A guide for parents

by Katrina R. Holtmeier

October 01, 2012

If you want to help your teen select the right college, it is important to ask the right questions, do your research, and make smart choices. But, how can you do all these things on a budget, without losing your mind or starting an argument in the process? Here are some tips to make the most out of college visits.

Set a Budget

You want college visits to leave more than just a couple bucks left in your wallet, so choose a couple schools to visit which aren’t too far away from one another. If you have to stay in a hotel, choose one located in-between a couple schools and always double check if there’s a complimentary breakfast service with your room, or find a local bed and breakfast, which will help you feel a little closer to home. Nightly hotel rates tend to increase around college campuses and town epicenters.

Some colleges help with travel costs and can offer a dormitory during your visit, so don’t be afraid to ask. It could end up saving you quite a bit of cash.

Asking the Right Questions

According to Director of Admissions at Butler University, Aimée Scheuermann, asking plenty of questions gives you and your child a chance to talk to someone who is ‘in the trenches.’

“Often this is the first opportunity to directly interact with a current student who is living and breathing the experience; therefore, you can expect an authentic and informed answer,” she said.

Here is a list of questions Scheuermann suggests asking while on a college visit:

• What are the majors offered?

• What are the admission requirements?

• Are there special admission requirements for certain majors?

• What are the application and financial aid dates and deadlines?

• Outcomes: What are the job and professional school placement rate averages?

• Finally, she said, don’t shy away from asking what the food is like, what happens on the weekends, and most importantly, the college or university considers as their ‘core values.’

Letting Go

You are helping your college-age teenager make a decision that will affect them for the rest of their life. According to the Director of College Advising at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, Kate McVey, you can be helpful without being bossy or overbearing, if you let your child take control.

“One of the best pieces of advice I have heard is that parents and the student should schedule a time once a week that they are going to talk about colleges and other than that time, the parent should not bring it up,” she said. “If a student feels like they are being overwhelmed and not supported by their parents, they will most likely shut down and then everything will become much more stressful.”

After the Official Tour

A college education is an investment in time and money. After the formal visit is over, sit on campus and observe how the students are interacting with one another. How are the faculty members interacting with students?

Stop a random student and ask him or her about their experience. Here are a few questions to ask:

• What does he or she like or dislike about the college?

• What is his or her favorite thing about the school?

• Is he or she involved in any of the sports, clubs, or activities offered by the school?

• What attracted him or her to that school?

Current faculty, staff, and students are the best resources for a perspective student so encourage your child to be bold and talk to someone.

In the end, be prepared and don’t stress out about college visits. Enjoy this important time in your child’s life and use this opportunity to make memories.