A: A college tour or campus visit is an important element in the college-search process. During a visit, your family has the opportunity to experience the school’s environment and meet the people who comprise the college community. Review these tips to maximize your visit.
Let your student lead
Your student should take the lead and schedule the campus visit. As parents, you want to be involved in the process, but don’t run the show. This is a part of the letting-go transition.
Ask these questions
Draft a list of questions that your student will be responsible for asking during the visit. Be sure to bring a writing utensil and paper to take notes. This will help you remember the information. Ask the same questions of all colleges/universities so that you can compare the experiences and answers. Read through the school’s view book, catalog and Web site to become familiar with the college, and generate questions from this reading. Here are some suggested questions:
How does the admissions process work?
What forms of financial aid are available, and how do I apply?
What academic support systems are offered to students?
What activities/events take place on the weekends?
What kind of academic advising is found on your campus?
What are the benefits of attending your school?
What is on-campus living like?
Look for this
Most campus tours will include visits to academic classrooms, the library, the student union/center, the recreation center, the residence halls, dining facilities and computer labs. Pay attention to the technology integrated in all places on campus.
Meet these people
During most campus visits, you will meet with an admissions representative. You should also meet with financial aid staff members, especially if you have questions about scholarships, loans and other forms of financial assistance. Request a meeting with a professor in the major in which your student is interested. Faculty members are experts in their fields and can elaborate on curriculum, internships, placement rates and coursework. Prospective athletes can also request to meet with the appropriate coach.
While on campus, be sure to obtain the names and titles of the people with whom you meet. Faculty and staff should have business cards available. This will assist you when you have questions after your visit.
Visit in your student’s sophomore or junior year if possible.
Talk as a family about your goals for the campus visit. Make sure those goals are met during your visit.
Pick up a student newspaper during your visit.
Talk to as many students as possible. Ask your student tour guides what they like most and least about the school and what made them choose that school.
Wear comfortable shoes. Check the weather forecast in advance and plan accordingly.
Always have an umbrella in the car.
Christopher Tremblay is director of admissions at Gannon University, www.gannon.edu.