Hello fellow parents, and welcome!
“What are college visits good for?” a mother from this group asked me.
Thank you for the great question, Mama! Beyond the extensive attention I pay to the subject in my book, College Admissions Cracked, I have a few more thoughts (always do, just ask my kids, ha!).
College visits are good for…
…peace of mind for you. “I am a good parent who has done due diligence,” you can say to yourself. But if you can’t or don’t want to spend spring break on this endeavor, colleges have upped their virtual visits game since the pandemic struck, so taking a virtual tour on family “movie night” also counts as due diligence.
…showing instead of telling. English teachers and college essay coaches, like me, drill in this core writing principle that also applies to college visits. Full immersion can give your child a better sense of the place. BUT (and this is a massive “but”) a campus visit can also give a student (and you) a false sense of real life at that college due to myriad uncontrollable variables (weather, horrible or dreamy tour guide, blooming daffodils or stepping over barf outside the dining hall…).
…a jolt of reality for your kid. “College” remains an abstract (often scary) word for many high school students, but upon stepping foot on a 3D college campus, the fuzzy concept becomes a concrete place. If your ambivalent student needs a nudge to battle spring fever and keep up their grades, schedule a college tour and info session (local counts) to help them take charge of their own future.
…a chance to go off-roading to campus corners not included in the tour, virtual or otherwise. Meet up with a current student for coffee or a brief visit to a dorm room that wasn’t professionally staged. If your child’s been admitted (hooray!), they can arrange to sit in on a class or join a team for practice. If your child’s a junior, they can set up a live interview if the college offers it (download my interview checklist before you go).
Do check out my many tips for college visits in the book and take heed. Your child might love the college because of the sunshine, chirping birds, or hottie tour guide. Or your child might hate the college due to a freak sleet storm or exhaustion if it’s the tenth college they’ve toured in five days. Many (dare I say most) of teenagers’ responses to college visits are emotional; specific to the day and unforeseen circumstances; and have nothing whatsoever to do with what the college itself has to offer. (ALL colleges have amazing offerings for the students who take advantage of them upon arrival.)
My big takeaway…Treat college visits like a shopping trip (admittedly for a huge ticket item), keep your sense of humor, and enjoy them for what they are especially good for (precious stolen time with your child before they leave the nest).
Road trip cookies for your college visits, of course! This is my friend Debbie’s friend Chrissie’s healthy-ish road trip cookie recipe to download from my free resources. And this is my go-to recipe for crowd-pleasing giant ginger cookies (I make them smaller).
If you have a question for my next newsletter or if you’re considering my private coaching services before my summer fills up, contact me here and please identify yourself as one of our CPR tribe. Happy travels!