12 Tips For A Successful College Trip

Here’s the dirty little secret about those college tours (sales pitches) and “info sessions” (sales pitches):  they’re a dime a dozen!

Yes, I think it’s important to see the new science building, the new rock climbing and aquatic center, and even those blue lights scattered all over campus.

However, after two or three college visits, things get blurry because the presentations start to blend in.  So here are my suggestions on how to maximize your precious college visiting time.

  1. Go NOW.  Even if you’re “not ready” or can’t seem to find the time, prioritize it. You will run out of time, sooner or later.

  2. Go when college is in session – February and April breaks are coming up, presenting two perfect opportunities!

  3. Try NOT to visit over the summer when most colleges are ghost towns.  It’s much better to go when they’re in session, so you can observe the types of kids who go there (e.g. those pulled from a Vineyard Vines catalog vs. unwashed kids with blue hair, guyliner and tatts), eavesdrop on what they’re talking about, look at the various flyers posted around campus, read the school newspaper, etc.

  4. Relax if you can’t see all 4,000 colleges in the US.  Nobody can visit every college.  Do your best.  At least see a small, medium and large college for starters.

  5. On the other hand, be aware that some colleges consider how “interested” you are in them more than others.  In other words, if you fail to visit a college that deems your interest to be important to them, you will sabotage your chances of admission.

  6. Don’t base your decision on whether to apply to any school solely on the tour guide, the info session, mascot, the hoodies in the bookstore or, my personal favorite, the “Feel.”   I’m NOT saying that you should disregard these critical considerations completely, just put them in their proper place.

  7. Instead, make time to speak to department heads of majors you’re considering.  Go to the career center.  Speak to upperclassmen.

  8. Ask questions that bear on what YOUR college experience could be like and what your OUTCOME might be, such as, “I’m thinking about majoring in X.  What happened to last year’s grads with that major?”  “Last year, who did the best in terms of job offers, admission to grad school, etc.?”  “What companies recruit on campus?”  “What type of assistance and support does the career center offer by way of internships, coaching on interviews, resume writing help and so on?”

  9. No helicoptering.  Let your kids ask questions while you keep your yapper shut.  You’ll have other opportunities to create cringe-worthy memories for your children, don’t do it on the tour.

  10. Re:  department heads, it’s pretty easy to contact them and arrange a sit-down.  Don’t be surprised if they’re flattered or impressed. Likewise, don’t be surprised if you learn more about that college than from any of their online or offline materials (photos of acne-free kids of every nationality and color, frolicking on the quad in tee shirts and shorts, even if the college is located in Buffalo or the upper midwest.)

  11. Take notes and photos, which will jog your memory when you need it:  when narrowing your list, and when writing essays that ask “‘Why are you applying here?”

  12. Don’t visit “Reach” schools only. In other words, don’t plan a trip to see Harvard and MIT and no other colleges if you have an 89 average and a 1250 on your SAT.  Balance the list with a Safety or Target.

I hope that helps!  For more free college admissions tips and strategies to multiply your odds of getting in – and winning boatloads of fat, juicy scholarships attend one of our upcoming webinars.  See www.CollegeAdmissionsWebcast.com.