Visiting colleges may seem like a right of passage for many teenagers, but really, the college tour is much more than that. If your high schooler will be heading off to college in a year or so, it's worth your while to take the time to visit a few schools, before the application season begins.
Taking a few college tours helps families narrow their school choices and focus their efforts, and while visiting colleges may be expensive, these visits are well worth it, and may even save you money in the long run.
For starters, visiting schools you're interested in may give you a leg up when it comes time to apply. They can also give you insight into what the school is looking for in prospective students, and provide background information on student life and academics, important information your child needs to know.
But college visits can also help you and your child pick the school that's the best fit for your student. That could prove to save quite a lot -- just think of all those unhappy college freshmen who end up back at home mid-semester, forfeiting tuition and room and board fees.
If you and your child are planning on visiting colleges this spring or summer, consider these tips:
- Visit colleges by region, combining several visits into one. Or, plan your visits around family vacations, or trips to visit family and friends
- Some high schools organize group visits, which can be quite a cost saver. Be sure to ask
- Ask the college admissions office for hotel discounts in the region
- Avoid visiting schools you know aren't a good fit for your child
- Avoid visiting colleges with friends. You want your child to focus his attention on the school
- Try to avoid visiting around busy college events, such as homecoming or parents weekend
Ian Welham is an expert at helping students find the best-fit college and helping their parents pay for it. For more information, visit completecollegeplanningsolutions.com.