The Women's Journal

Campus Visits: Chats, Emails, Skype

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By Dr. Patricia H. Smith 

Homework, extracurricular activities, sports, studying and taking the SAT/ACT college admission exams are keeping high school juniors and their parents extremely busy. Not to worry, spring break is coming soon. However, resting during spring break may not be an option since colleges invite high school juniors and their parents to visit their campuses. College admissions representatives are eager for students to hear presentations about admissions requirements, how to apply to the college, the cost and financial assistance to attend the college. Students and parents will also tour the campus and experience social life and campus activities, classrooms, lecture halls, academics and professors, and campus facilities, with the hopes that students and their parents will be excited and interested in applying and attending their colleges. 

The Purpose of College Visits

Selecting colleges – where students can thrive academically, socially, and financially – is a big decision. College visits are important because it gives families the chance to become familiar with the colleges, their offerings and environments. During the college visits, students take a closer look at the campus’ student body, social atmosphere, facilities, and academics. The visits can help students eliminate or select the right colleges to apply for admissions. 

Preparing for the Visits 

Months before the campus visits, have a family meeting to decide what colleges and when to visit. To get the most out of visiting college campuses, it is important that students and parents stop, look, and listen to each other and agree on what they want to achieve during the college visits. There are many topics you will agree on during your family meeting; however, there are topics that are of major concern of parents. According to Gallop surveys, more than 70% of parents have worries about the cost of college and paying for college. Below are suggestions on how to prepare for the college visits:

Parents’ Preparation

  • Be well-informed about the colleges 
  • Look into financial aid and Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • Be supportive, encouraging and reassuring
  • Be prepared to make direct contact with the financial aid counselors, the admission counselors and current students attending the college
  • Use your experienced ears to listen out for things that your student might miss and shine a different light on what is said and not said
  • Don’t embarrass your student with “parent questions.” Prior to the visit, agree as a family what questions you will ask – no surprises – remember that parents should be in the background
  • Check to see if there are separate programs or sessions for parents (financial aid or Q&A sessions with admissions staff and professors, Office of Disability Support Services staff, and residence and student life counselors)
  • Parents don’t forget that the campus visit is the chance for students to learn more about the colleges

Students’ Preparation 

  • Don’t plan to visit when the colleges are closed: Thanksgiving break and Christmas (Winter break), etc.
  • Check the colleges’ on-line calendar for dates of college tours and information sessions
  • Get acquainted with your geographical area college admission staff
  • Prepare questions that are particularly of interest to you about the college
  • If possible, make an appointment to talk briefly with a professor in your field of study/interest

During the Visit

Parents remember to remind your students that no college is perfect. Therefore, encourage them to look for aspects of the college that will meet their needs. Yes, parents should ask questions; especially since you are helping your students with the college process. However, remember not to monopolize the events.  

After the Visit

College visits are the best ways to understand the institutions, however, colleges may seem similar, so communicating and evaluating each institution after a visit over pizza will be helpful. This evaluation process will assist with determining the character and distinctiveness of a college and aid in comparing the colleges. Just remember to evaluate the colleges using the same categories – for example: cost/tuition and fees/room and board.

Enjoy the college visits! 

For more information call 302-884-6748 or visit