What should parents do during campus visits?

College Admissions

Our Counselors Answered:

What should parents do during campus visits?

Cathy McMeekan

Parents on campus – an extra set of eyes and ears

While the student needs to take charge of the campus visit, parents can be a great second set of eyes/ears. Touring with your student is fine – just let them ask the questions! If you do have questions, make sure you are letting the students in the group have opportunities first to ask their questions. Parents always have safety questions – and almost always that information can be found on the schools websites and in their literature. All campuses have a blue light system and most have some kind of after hours escort service to get the students back to their residences safely. While on the tours parents should observe activity they see on campus; your student might be focused on what the tour guide is saying and miss some of what is happening. In an information session another set of ears is helpful; parents might pick up on something the student did not. If your student has an interview let them do it on their own and take the opportunity to walk around campus, stop and chat to students and get a sense of the campus vibe. After your visit you can discuss with your student what you saw and heard; it might be different or might reinforce what they learned or felt about the campus.

Amy FeinsownerAMF College Consulting

I don’t know you!

What should parents do on campus visits? Take a separate tour!! Don’t embarass your child. Turn off your cell phone. Don’t keep talking about what college was like when YOu were a student. Don’t embarass your child. Don’t ask about partying or drinking on the tour, save that for a private conversation with an admissons officer. Don’t say “we”. Don’t speak for your child. Don’t try to be funny, or smart, or hip. Just hang back and listen. DO ask questions, when the time is right, about financial aid or scholarships. DO let your child take the lead. DO look around and see how the students act on the campus. Would your child be happy here? Do the students look happy? You can learn a lot by just observing.

Nina BerlerFounderunCommon Apps

What should parents do during campus visits?

Parents should be a help rather than a hindrance on college visits. I went on numerous visits with my son, and I was quiet and respectful during information sessions and always showed my appreciation to tour guides. (I remember that special request, “Now Mom, don’t embarrass me!”) Parents are often good note takers as well, so perhaps that can be the parent’s assigned job. This is especially true if you are seeing a number of schools. A parent should prompt the student about a particular question or issue and can remind the student to sign a guest book or ask for a business card in the admissions office. When the visit is over, the parent should wait to be asked for his or her opinion to have healthy dialogue with the prospective applicant.

Dr. Christine Hand – GonzalesAuthor of Interactive Resource eBook College Bound: Proven Ways to Plan and Prepare for Getting Into the College of Your Dreams (over 1200 live links), companion workbook – My College Bound Plan, College Planning Blog – http://www.college-path.com: and College Planning ConsultantCollege Path LLC

Two Roles, One Visit…

Both the parents and the child have a role during the campus visit. As parents, you will certainly want to know if the institution will be the best fit for your child. You may want to know how your child’s needs will be met both academically and socially. Do they have the major their child wants to study? How about internship and study abroad opportunities? What about the money? Does the school offer financial aid and scholarships? Let you children shine during the information session and while on tour. You will have time to ask your questions as well. While on the visit, spend some time meeting the financial aid representative while your child develops your relationship with his or her admissions representative. Enjoy the visit and compare notes at the end. Communication is the key to reducing the stress in the search process.

Zulema WascherCounselorRio Rico High School

What should parents do during campus visits?

Always ask questions. Make sure you always ask questions regarding school accreditation, financial aid support from the school, career services upon graduation, and costs.

Maureen LawlerCollege CounselorBishop Kelley High

Parents should be involved in the campus visit

Parents should be involved in the college process including the campus visit. Prior to the visit sit down with your child and discuss it. Discuss questions to ask if the guide does not address your concerns or needs; but, let your child ask the questions not you. The campus visit is the time for your child to see if the school is a good fit.Take note of the things that are important to you. Once the visit is over talk about everyone’s likes and dislikes. Let your child be the leader not you.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

What should parents do during campus visits?

visit departments and check out the activities. speak to student advisory, ask about rention and graduation rate, find out more information about carrer placement services, and have lunch at the student center

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

Lay Low

As much experience, knowledge and good intentions that you have — try to keep a low profile during a campus visit. Let your student be the leader and the main driver of the process. If you have questions, you should certainly ask them as well — but remember — you don’t want to be the overbearing parent that we all know who monopolizes a Q&A session with the admissions staff or who expounds on their opinions/experiences during a campus tour. Overstepping your bounds doesn’t help anyone — and it certainly makes for a very long and uncomfortable car ride home with your teenager!

Lisa Smith

What should parents do during campus visits?

The first no-no on a campus visit is the royal “we.” The student is the one who will be going to the college. Do not say things like, “We just love your school,” “We don’t know what we will major in,” or “We just took our SAT.” The student is the applicant so the student should do the talking and ask the questions. The correct pronoun is “I,” and it comes from the mouth of the student! The second no-no is the parent who speaks and “does” for their student. The student should sign in. The student should introduce her/himself. The student should ask questions.

The third no-no: do not go into the interview with your student! The admission counselor is asking you in to be polite…they really want to speak to your student, not you. The interview is an important factor for your student, especially at the smaller schools. Don’t embarrass your student by going in with them! The fourth no-no: do not complain or whine about the campus, the application, or about the cost! Your job during the visit is to support your student, ask pertinent questions, gather information quietly, and stay in the background. The fifth and most important no-no is: do not sell your student! The campus visit and interview is not the time and place for you to try and get your student admitted.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

What should parents do during campus visits?

There’s a fine line between being involved and being TOO involved with your child’s college search, campus visits, and so on. Parents should always be available as a sounding board for their children’s college ideas and perhaps to provide some guidance in staying focused once in awhile, but they should avoid pushing their own agenda, as much as possible. That being said, it’s important to remember that, since this college venture will, in most cases, involve a heavy financial commitment on the part of parents, they do have a right to be involved in the process. Now, about the campus visits: Parents should encourage their children to be pro-active in seeking out information and visiting areas of the schools that will be relevant to the student. The colleges/universities to be visited should be well-researched BEFORE the visit. It will be worthwhile if both students and parents are aware of the college culture and offerings when they arrive on campus. Then the visit will provide further layers of understanding. Your visit will typically consist of a group information session and a guided tour of the campus. Before visiting each school, it will be helpful for students to prepare a list of questions that they would like to have answered during the visit. Parents and students can work together in preparing this list. Then, during the Q&A period after the information session or during the tour, the student can pose some of these questions if they have not already been answered. The presentation and tour may also trigger new questions that had not previously been considered. Both parents and students should, of course, feel free to ask those questions, but parents should make a concerted effort not to steam roll through the process, taking the control away from their children. If parents consider themselves primarily as “observers” of the process, rather than the focal point, the occasional parental question will not seem to be a move to take over. As partners in the visit, parents and their children can complement one another, in that some of the aspects that they consider important will undoubtedly differ from time to time. If the student has scheduled an interview while at the school, parents will not be actively involved during the interview. While waiting in the lobby of the Admissions Office, they can be gathering brochures which may be of interest to their children and reading some of the materials available, which will perhaps trigger other questions. Remember that the point of the visit is for the student (and his/her parents) to gather information and gain as much insight as possible into the institution. After each visit, parents can give their children a chance to talk about their impressions of the school, making appropriate comments or asking relevant questions, but without trying to actively manipulate the student’s conclusions. Talking about those impressions will give the student a chance to better understand what they themselves like and don’t like about any given institution – what excites them and what turns them off.

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Parents on Campus Visits

As a parent touring colleges, you will be best served if you look but don’t speak. The last thing you want to do is embarrass Johnny with your questions. Along with that, please give Susie time to process the visit before hitting her up for her impressions. They will share their feelings when they are ready. It is important that you keep your thoughts to yourself until your opinion is solicited or you just can’t keep quiet any longer. Remember you aren’t the one going to college, this is their decision.

Helen Cella

What should parents do during campus visits?

Ask questions if applicable

Corey FischerPresidentCollegeClarity

What should parents do during campus visits?

Parents should be there, but should walk behind the student, allowing the student to take the lead and ask the questions. It is fine for the parents to ask a few questions, but only a few. It is helpful if you have discussed some topics ahead of time so you all have an idea of what is important to you. The parents can also take a picture here and there of the child in front of key landmarks on the campus to help the child remember the campus later. Grab the school newspaper when you see it around campus. If the child is interviewing, the child should go up to the reception desk and check in for the appointment. If visiting your alma mater, refrain from the “when I was here” statements.

Laura O’Brien GatzionisFounderEducational Advisory Services

Parent Tasks on College Visits

Take photos so that after the trip, your family will have visual guides. Take notes during the information session as you used to do in classroom lectures. Take your kid to lunch on campus–not only will you get a better sense of the campus culture but you will be able to check out the food. If your child has any disabilities make sure you have an appointment at the DSS office to find out what types of accommodations and services are available. Look around for the safety precautions–is there a blue light system? Let the student take the lead–he/she is the one who needs to understand if this school is a good fit. Don’t forget to fit in a few fun side trips for everyone to blow off steam.

Tam Warner MintonConsultantCollege Adventures

Parents and campus visits

Parents should smile, be proud of their child, and let their child ask the questions and make the comments. The child should sign in at the admission office. Parents should be polite and friendly with everyone on campus visits, but do nothing to upstage their child. I have a blog on this topic that I believe all parents should read, it is the list of what parents should NOT do on a campus visit. http://collegeadventures.net/blog/2009/08/11/campus-visitswhat-parents/

Sarah ContomichalosManagerEducational Advisory Services, LLC

What should parents do during campus visits?

Almost every tour I have been on, a parent has asked “how safe is the campus” which prompts a discussion of the blue light system and the police’s response time. This is a time for the student to be asking questions about the different aspects of life on campus. How are room mate problems handled? What is the party scene like? Parents should take the tours and attend the information sessions but should let the students ask the questions.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

What should parents do during campus visits?

Parents should attend an information session with their child and while on a tour of the campus should generally remain in the background. Let the student meet with admissions staff or faculty on their own and ask their own questions. Try to refrain from commenting on the school until later when the student has had time to think about it and comes to you.

Suzan ReznickIndependent Educational ConsultantThe College Connection

Stay very quiet

This is the hardest role to take, to be passive rather then active in voicing your thoughts about a campus. That is not to say that you should not every share your reflections. Just that it would be more useful for your children, if you wait to hear their reactions BEFORE you share your observations. After the visit, be a sounding board, ask key questions while waiting to share what you thought. Ask them if “they could see themselves” at that school. Were they impressed or disenchanted by the info session and/or tour guide? Did they like the campus and find it attractive? I had one mother who actually counted cigarette butts on each campus and used that as some sort of screening process!

Suzan ReznickIndependent Educational ConsultantThe College Connection

Stay very quiet

This is the hardest role to take, to be passive rather then active in voicing your thoughts about a campus. That is not to say that you should not every share your reflections. Just that it would be more useful for your children, if you wait to hear their reactions BEFORE you share your observations. After the visit, be a sounding board, ask key questions while waiting to share what you thought. Ask them if “they could see themselves” at that school. Were they impressed or disenchanted by the info session and/or tour guide? Did they like the campus and find it attractive? I had one mother who actually counted cigarette butts on each campus and used that as some sort of screening process!

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

What should parents do during campus visits?

Campus visits are exciting for both students and parents. They can also be stressful, especially if travel and/or multiple campus visits during short time frames are involved. To minimize parent/child conflict and help make the visit valuable to the whole family, parents should help kids prepare for campus visits, organize logistics, and then take a calm, objective backseat. Before the visit, spend some time with your student to make a list of what she wants to see, do, and find out about while visiting. Help her make a list of questions to ask and a prioritized plan of what she’d most like to accomplish at each campus; when you start to run out of time on a visit (and you always do) it’s much easier to just hit your top three tasks or locations than it is to squabble over what you each think is most important. If there are things you’d like to do on the visit that don’t make it onto your student’s list, ask her if she’s comfortable with you adding a few items. Be flexible. If you’re dying to check out the athletic facilities at each school but your student has absolutely no interest in sports of any kind, agree to go your own ways for part of the visit: You visit the sports complex while she explores one of her top choices. It makes sense that parents will probably organize travel arrangements for campus visits. Because students are likely to be overwhelmed by the experience of touring, it can also be helpful for parents to take care of scheduling tours, obtaining maps, and even helping to identify key locations on that map in advance. Again, be flexible. If your student becomes enthralled by a particular location or decides she wants to see something on the spur of the moment, don’t insist she stick to your original plan. While it may be tough, the most important thing parents can do to support kids during campus visits is give them space. Think back to the time when your student was a toddler, and was starting to venture out on the playground alone, but still made frequent checks over her shoulder to be sure mom or dad was still right behind her. Things aren’t so different now. Your kid wants to independently check out the place she might call home for the next four years, but she also wants to know you’re there for her. Ask her how you can help during the visit. When she seems uncertain, confused or stressed about what to do or where to go next, ask if she’d like some suggestions or if it might be a good time to grab lunch or a coffee and regroup before continuing. Let her know that you have confidence in her ability to handle the visit on her own, but you’re there to share in her excitement and discovery, and to provide advice and support if she needs it. You’re bound to have opinions about schools, to make judgments about some things and get really jazzed about others. Unless your student asks, keep your criticisms and enthusiasms to yourself. The college your kid chooses needs to fit her, not you. Even though she’d likely rather die than let you know it, your opinions do influence her and matter to her. Try not to throw more variables into her decision-making process or color her views of a particular school by being too vocal with your own thoughts and feelings. While it’s fine to ask questions during information sessions, if your student schedules a meeting with an admissions officer, don’t tag along. If you have specific questions, ask your kid if you can write them down for her to ask during the meeting. She may ask your questions; she may not. If she doesn’t, let it go. You’re bound to be able to find the information you’re seeking elsewhere. What matters most is that she gets her questions answered, and that she goes to the meeting not as your child, but as a college bound young adult. While she’s in admissions, head over to the student union and buy her a school sweatshirt. She may end up with ten different sweatshirts from colleges she doesn’t ultimately attend, but for the next year or so, they’ll be a reminder of the visits you made together, and of all the possibilities that await her after high school.

Patricia KrahnkePresident/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

What should parents do during campus visits?

Short Answer: Your child is probably going to be excited/terrified about the college visit experience. His/her reactions may be more visceral and emotional than intellectual. So take notes and keep track of all of my usual advice for families doing college visits. Detailed Answer: Be an astute observer and a critical thinker when visiting a college and listening to an admissions counselor. Do your homework before you go. First, listen critically to everything that is told to you. Traditionally, admissions counselors have been caring, knowledgeable individuals. However, many admissions counselors attitudes today are being driven by pressure from the administration to bring in students, which equals tuition and room and board money. Admissions counselors are selling you their college, because their jobs depend upon the numbers of students they recruit. So, unfortunately, you can no longer believe them any more than you would believe a used car salesman, despite everyone’s good intentions. (BTW, the term “used car salesman” is one I hear often now, used by admissions counselors weary of the pressure to recruit students who are not a good fit.) I have attended and participated in many, many info sessions over the years. In the past several years, it is astonishing how similar these sessions have become. They are almost interchangeable. The truth is that admissions departments everywhere have deeply researched your child’s generation and know exactly what to say to attract him/her– from diversity, to community service, to safety, to student-focused, to anything and everything. Honestly, visiting a college is much more about considering the details that will affect your child’s day to day life and sussing out the truth behind the marketing and reputation. 1. Observe the way that professors and administrators behave around students. Are the employees respectful of the students? Do they seem to enjoy interacting with them? Do they seem helpful and not dismissive of students with questions? 2. Consider the situations at Penn State and Rutgers. Consider your own ethics and then think about what questions you need to ask to learn about the ethics of the institution. For example, what is their student judicial system like? How have they handled bullying in the past? Do they have campus-wide programs in effect to increase inter-human sensitivity? How do they handle substance abuse issues? How do they deal with student conflict? What is their approach to handling student mental and emotional health issues? If a student is in crisis, and that crisis may reflect poorly on the institution, will the institution act on behalf of the student or will it cover up the crisis in order to protect the institution? Does the institution seem punitive or does it seem to approach jurisprudence as a learning opportunity? Don’t just ask them open ended questions, ask for specific examples. 3. Ask about their first-year student intake program. How are they going to ensure that you are socially integrated and academically supported? What are the mechanisms for students to confidentially express their fears and anxieties? Do they have an Early Alert system? If they don’t, what is their process for ensuring that no student falls through the cracks? If they do, is it one that is designed to truly help students who are struggling, or is it intended to seek out struggling students and punish them for buckling to the high pressures of college life? 4. Look at the “bricks and mortar.” Does the campus look well-cared for? Does it look safe? Lights in alleyways and hallways, etc. That stuff matters. But college is a place to learn. It’s not supposed to be the Golden Door Spa. Be aware that fancy, expensive residence hall facilities should make you question where your tuition and room and board money will be going — especially if it is an institution that is charging higher tuition and it has little or no endowment. It should be going to ensure that the academic facilities and equipment will prepare you to enter your profession. That’s what you’re going to college for. 5. Before you go, read the local newspapers online and see what’s mentioned about the college or university. Does the institution have a good reputation within the community? What is the relationship of the college to the surrounding community — “town and gown”? Is the college genuinely invested in the people and community that surround it, or are they simply taking up space, creating a universe of their own with no interest in bettering the world around them? Some institutions, such as Indiana University — Bloomington, are fully integrated into the community in every way, ethnically, socially, and economically. This integration creates a rich personal and professional experience with lots of real world possibilities for building a resume aimed at gaining employment upon graduating. 6. Listen closely and think critically. Make sure that the institution you are visiting is marketing itself HONESTLY through its tours and info sessions. For example,Tulane University is in New Orleans, which in its admissions tours touts its diversity. However, look around you on campus and you see virtually no evidence of varied ethnicities. Then drive to the other side of town and see a completely different, devastated community. Then remember the admissions officer telling you that their football team plays in the Superdome, which had housed all the people from the Ninth Ward. They have an almost billion dollar endowment, yet they accepted $135 million from FEMA post-Katrina to upgrade their data systems, yet the city is still devastated. Again, institutional ethics and truth in marketing — pay attention to what they are telling you, then pay closer attention to anything that supports or denies what they have said. 7. Before you go on your tour, research safety statistics and everything that’s been in the general news about the college. And when you are there, pick up a copy of the student newspaper — that’s where you will see what’s really going on. And learn about what’s being discussed at the Student Government Association meetings. Pay attention to what you find out about efforts students and student groups make to express their concerns to the college’s administration. What are the concerns being expressed and how are those concerns being responded to. 8. Ask where your tuition money and room and board goes. Better yet, ask to be directed to published information that details where your money will go. 9. Don’t ask what their average SAT score is, or their graduation rate, or their student/faculty ratio. You can find all that info online, even though it’s not very important. The fact is, you learn more from astute observation and research than you do from asking questions. 10. Four-to-five years is a long time to be someplace. Before you leave for your visits, you should read online the college’s Strategic Plan. When you visit the campus, check to see if there is evidence that the institution is moving actively in the direction its Strategic Plan indicates it wants to go. 11. Also research online where funding cuts are being made. If it’s a public institution you are looking at, research what kinds of funding cuts are being made to make up for reduced state funding. Many, many institutions around the country are being faced with having to pull back on programs or eliminate them completely. When you visit, talk to a professor or students and find out what the continued funding outlook is for their department. You don’t want to end up in a program that cannot keep up with it’s needs for educating you, or worse, in a program that is in danger of being eliminated. And make sure you research what they tell you — they may be trying to save their department by recruiting anyone and everyone. That doesn’t mean the department isn’t good, it just means they are struggling and you want to make certain that you understand the truth and possible outcomes of their struggles, because they will affect you. 12. Ask if tuition money is being spent to attract international students or if it is being used to help students such as yourself pay for college. How much money is being spent to recruit international students? Where is that money coming from? The latest statistics show that colleges are now spending more money on general marketing and marketing to international students than they are on scholarships for talented, low income students. Colleges claim that they recruit internationally because they want the diversity, but it’s just about the money. The fact is that there is plenty of diversity in this country that is not being served by our institutions of higher learning.

Patricia KrahnkePresident/PartnerGlobal College Search Associates, LLC

What should parents do during campus visits?

Short Answer: Your child is probably going to be excited/terrified about the college visit experience. His/her reactions may be more visceral and emotional than intellectual. So take notes and keep track of all of my usual advice for families doing college visits. Detailed Answer: Be an astute observer and a critical thinker when visiting a college and listening to an admissions counselor. Do your homework before you go. First, listen critically to everything that is told to you. Traditionally, admissions counselors have been caring, knowledgeable individuals. However, many admissions counselors attitudes today are being driven by pressure from the administration to bring in students, which equals tuition and room and board money. Admissions counselors are selling you their college, because their jobs depend upon the numbers of students they recruit. So, unfortunately, you can no longer believe them any more than you would believe a used car salesman, despite everyone’s good intentions. (BTW, the term “used car salesman” is one I hear often now, used by admissions counselors weary of the pressure to recruit students who are not a good fit.) I have attended and participated in many, many info sessions over the years. In the past several years, it is astonishing how similar these sessions have become. They are almost interchangeable. The truth is that admissions departments everywhere have deeply researched your child’s generation and know exactly what to say to attract him/her– from diversity, to community service, to safety, to student-focused, to anything and everything. Honestly, visiting a college is much more about considering the details that will affect your child’s day to day life and sussing out the truth behind the marketing and reputation. 1. Observe the way that professors and administrators behave around students. Are the employees respectful of the students? Do they seem to enjoy interacting with them? Do they seem helpful and not dismissive of students with questions? 2. Consider the situations at Penn State and Rutgers. Consider your own ethics and then think about what questions you need to ask to learn about the ethics of the institution. For example, what is their student judicial system like? How have they handled bullying in the past? Do they have campus-wide programs in effect to increase inter-human sensitivity? How do they handle substance abuse issues? How do they deal with student conflict? What is their approach to handling student mental and emotional health issues? If a student is in crisis, and that crisis may reflect poorly on the institution, will the institution act on behalf of the student or will it cover up the crisis in order to protect the institution? Does the institution seem punitive or does it seem to approach jurisprudence as a learning opportunity? Don’t just ask them open ended questions, ask for specific examples. 3. Ask about their first-year student intake program. How are they going to ensure that you are socially integrated and academically supported? What are the mechanisms for students to confidentially express their fears and anxieties? Do they have an Early Alert system? If they don’t, what is their process for ensuring that no student falls through the cracks? If they do, is it one that is designed to truly help students who are struggling, or is it intended to seek out struggling students and punish them for buckling to the high pressures of college life? 4. Look at the “bricks and mortar.” Does the campus look well-cared for? Does it look safe? Lights in alleyways and hallways, etc. That stuff matters. But college is a place to learn. It’s not supposed to be the Golden Door Spa. Be aware that fancy, expensive residence hall facilities should make you question where your tuition and room and board money will be going — especially if it is an institution that is charging higher tuition and it has little or no endowment. It should be going to ensure that the academic facilities and equipment will prepare you to enter your profession. That’s what you’re going to college for. 5. Before you go, read the local newspapers online and see what’s mentioned about the college or university. Does the institution have a good reputation within the community? What is the relationship of the college to the surrounding community — “town and gown”? Is the college genuinely invested in the people and community that surround it, or are they simply taking up space, creating a universe of their own with no interest in bettering the world around them? Some institutions, such as Indiana University — Bloomington, are fully integrated into the community in every way, ethnically, socially, and economically. This integration creates a rich personal and professional experience with lots of real world possibilities for building a resume aimed at gaining employment upon graduating. 6. Listen closely and think critically. Make sure that the institution you are visiting is marketing itself HONESTLY through its tours and info sessions. For example,Tulane University is in New Orleans, which in its admissions tours touts its diversity. However, look around you on campus and you see virtually no evidence of varied ethnicities. Then drive to the other side of town and see a completely different, devastated community. Then remember the admissions officer telling you that their football team plays in the Superdome, which had housed all the people from the Ninth Ward. They have an almost billion dollar endowment, yet they accepted $135 million from FEMA post-Katrina to upgrade their data systems, yet the city is still devastated. Again, institutional ethics and truth in marketing — pay attention to what they are telling you, then pay closer attention to anything that supports or denies what they have said. 7. Before you go on your tour, research safety statistics and everything that’s been in the general news about the college. And when you are there, pick up a copy of the student newspaper — that’s where you will see what’s really going on. And learn about what’s being discussed at the Student Government Association meetings. Pay attention to what you find out about efforts students and student groups make to express their concerns to the college’s administration. What are the concerns being expressed and how are those concerns being responded to. 8. Ask where your tuition money and room and board goes. Better yet, ask to be directed to published information that details where your money will go. 9. Don’t ask what their average SAT score is, or their graduation rate, or their student/faculty ratio. You can find all that info online, even though it’s not very important. The fact is, you learn more from astute observation and research than you do from asking questions. 10. Four-to-five years is a long time to be someplace. Before you leave for your visits, you should read online the college’s Strategic Plan. When you visit the campus, check to see if there is evidence that the institution is moving actively in the direction its Strategic Plan indicates it wants to go. 11. Also research online where funding cuts are being made. If it’s a public institution you are looking at, research what kinds of funding cuts are being made to make up for reduced state funding. Many, many institutions around the country are being faced with having to pull back on programs or eliminate them completely. When you visit, talk to a professor or students and find out what the continued funding outlook is for their department. You don’t want to end up in a program that cannot keep up with it’s needs for educating you, or worse, in a program that is in danger of being eliminated. And make sure you research what they tell you — they may be trying to save their department by recruiting anyone and everyone. That doesn’t mean the department isn’t good, it just means they are struggling and you want to make certain that you understand the truth and possible outcomes of their struggles, because they will affect you. 12. Ask if tuition money is being spent to attract international students or if it is being used to help students such as yourself pay for college. How much money is being spent to recruit international students? Where is that money coming from? The latest statistics show that colleges are now spending more money on general marketing and marketing to international students than they are on scholarships for talented, low income students. Colleges claim that they recruit internationally because they want the diversity, but it’s just about the money. The fact is that there is plenty of diversity in this country that is not being served by our institutions of higher learning.

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

What should parents do during campus visits?

Parents can be a big help on a campus visit by serving as an additional set of eyes and ears, while never forgetting that the process is about finding the right fit for the student. Help your child do some advance research so that all of you can ask questions that yield good information and a fuller understanding of what going to the school would be like. The school has a message it wants to share, but parents can help their children get beyond that and look “under the hood,” so to speak, at some of the things that are not immediately evident but which, especially if you have gone to college, you might be more aware of. Help your child get as full a picture as they can of what life at the school would be like.

Ellen [email protected]OwnerEllen Richards Admissions Consulting

What should parents do during campus visits?

The best advice for parents who accompany the student on college visits is to remain as quiet and uninvolved as possible. First of all, this is a student’s opportunity to shine and parents should give the student space to do that. Every interaction that a student has with the college is recorded one way or another and students who don’t seem as interested in the college of their parents will not be regarded as serious about the college as they might otherwise be. Also, students at this age tend to harbor some resentment towards parents who are too involved in decisions that affect the student and in this case, considering that this is a decision that will stay with the student for the rest of their life, parents want to be careful not to influence or try to exert too much influence on the student because most of the time they will rebel and it will have the opposit effect on them. Therefore the best thing that parents can do during college visits is to do the research that they find necessary beforehand, talk to the student before the college visit and bring up any questions or concerns that they might have that they didn’t have discretion about it so that then possibly, the student can ask about it while they’re there or they can try to find the answer together while they’re there. Further, parents can let the student to take the lead during campus visits because whichever campus a student chooses to make their home for the next four years should be the decision that that is theirs alone and based on their own opinions.

Ellen [email protected]OwnerEllen Richards Admissions Consulting

What should parents do during campus visits?

The best advice for parents who accompany the student on college visits is to remain as quiet and uninvolved as possible. First of all, this is a student’s opportunity to shine and parents should give the student space to do that. Every interaction that a student has with the college is recorded one way or another and students who don’t seem as interested in the college of their parents will not be regarded as serious about the college as they might otherwise be. Also, students at this age tend to harbor some resentment towards parents who are too involved in decisions that affect the student and in this case, considering that this is a decision that will stay with the student for the rest of their life, parents want to be careful not to influence or try to exert too much influence on the student because most of the time they will rebel and it will have the opposit effect on them. Therefore the best thing that parents can do during college visits is to do the research that they find necessary beforehand, talk to the student before the college visit and bring up any questions or concerns that they might have that they didn’t have discretion about it so that then possibly, the student can ask about it while they’re there or they can try to find the answer together while they’re there. Further, parents can let the student to take the lead during campus visits because whichever campus a student chooses to make their home for the next four years should be the decision that that is theirs alone and based on their own opinions.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

What should parents do during campus visits?

Parents should be supportive of their students and remember that the campus visit should allow the student to practice independence and explore the environment. Parents should take notes, ask questions and discuss their impressions with the student.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

What should parents do during campus visits?

Parents should be supportive of their students and remember that the campus visit should allow the student to practice independence and explore the environment. Parents should be observant, take notes, ask questions, and discuss their impressions with the student.

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

What should parents do during campus visits?

Campus visits are exciting for both students and parents. They can also be stressful, especially if travel and/or multiple campus visits during short time frames are involved. To minimize parent/child conflict and help make the visit valuable to the whole family, parents should help kids prepare for campus visits, organize logistics, and then take a calm, objective backseat. Before the visit, spend some time with your student to make a list of what she wants to see, do, and find out about while visiting. Help her make a list of questions to ask and a prioritized plan of what she’d most like to accomplish at each campus; when you start to run out of time on a visit (and you always do) it’s much easier to just hit your top three tasks or locations than it is to squabble over what you each think is most important. If there are things you’d like to do on the visit that don’t make it onto your student’s list, ask her if she’s comfortable with you adding a few items. Be flexible. If you’re dying to check out the athletic facilities at each school but your student has absolutely no interest in sports of any kind, agree to go your own ways for part of the visit: You visit the sports complex while she explores one of her top choices. It makes sense that parents will probably organize travel arrangements for campus visits. Because students are likely to be overwhelmed by the experience of touring, it can also be helpful for parents to take care of scheduling tours, obtaining maps, and even helping to identify key locations on that map in advance. Again, be flexible. If your student becomes enthralled by a particular location or decides she wants to see something on the spur of the moment, don’t insist she stick to your original plan. While it may be tough, the most important thing parents can do to support kids during campus visits is give them space. Think back to the time when your student was a toddler, and was starting to venture out on the playground alone, but still made frequent checks over her shoulder to be sure mom or dad was still right behind her. Things aren’t so different now. Your kid wants to independently check out the place she might call home for the next four years, but she also wants to know you’re there for her. Ask her how you can help during the visit. When she seems uncertain, confused or stressed about what to do or where to go next, ask if she’d like some suggestions or if it might be a good time to grab lunch or a coffee and regroup before continuing. Let her know that you have confidence in her ability to handle the visit on her own, but you’re there to share in her excitement and discovery, and to provide advice and support if she needs it. You’re bound to have opinions about schools, to make judgments about some things and get really jazzed about others. Unless your student asks, keep your criticisms and enthusiasms to yourself. The college your kid chooses needs to fit her, not you. Even though she’d likely rather die than let you know it, your opinions do influence her and matter to her. Try not to throw more variables into her decision-making process or color her views of a particular school by being too vocal with your own thoughts and feelings. While it’s fine to ask questions during information sessions, if your student schedules a meeting with an admissions officer, don’t tag along. If you have specific questions, ask your kid if you can write them down for her to ask during the meeting. She may ask your questions; she may not. If she doesn’t, let it go. You’re bound to be able to find the information you’re seeking elsewhere. What matters most is that she goes her questions answered, and that she goes to the meeting not as your child, but as a college bound young adult. While she’s in admissions, head over to the student union and buy her a school sweatshirt. She may end up with ten different sweatshirts from colleges she doesn’t ultimately attend, but for the next year or so, they’ll be a reminder of the visits you made together, and of all the possibilities that await her after high school.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

What should parents do during campus visits?

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. They should be in the background. It is certainly ok for them to ask questions, but this is about the student. The student shouldn’t be relying on the parents to ask all of the questions.

Geoff BroomeAssistant Director of AdmissionsWidener University

What should parents do during campus visits?

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. They should be in the background. It is certainly ok for them to ask questions, but this is about the student. The student shouldn’t be relying on the parents to ask all of the questions.

Pamela Hampton-GarlandOwnerScholar Bound

Campus Visits and Parents

Most students are going to go on campus visits and remain very quiet; they have no questions and if they do they do not want to be the one to step out and ask what they may think is a “dumb” question. A parent can help by really understanding in advance what your child has already expressed an interest in, maybe prior to the visits talk about the size of the campus, classroom size, extra curricular interest, housing, mountains or beach, north or south, car or no car for freshmen, average GPA/SAT, and listen to their answers and on the visit when the question answer session begins if a question has not been asked or the answer was not very clear ask the questions that your child has expressed an interest in.

Cheryl Millington

What should parents do during campus visits?

Depending on your personality it’s probably hard as a parent to not want to take control and be a force to reckon with on a campus visit. I suggest that you plan together before the visit. Help your child prepare a list of questions. Also discuss if your child will like you to participate in the visit, wait in the car or stay at home. If you will participate, allow your child to shine and show the school how bright and enthusiastic they are about that university. They school wants to know more about your child, not about you. If you are not going to participate, you’ll have to trust your child’s judgement. After all, it’s their degree, their experience and it should be their decision.

Cheryl Millington

What should parents do during campus visits?

Depending on your personality it’s probably hard as a parent to not want to take control and be a force to reckon with on a campus visit. I suggest that you plan together before the visit. Help your child prepare a list of questions. Also discuss if your child will like you to participate in the visit, wait in the car or stay at home. If you will participate, allow your child to shine and show the school how bright and enthusiastic they are about that university. They school wants to know more about your child, not about you. If you are not going to participate, you’ll have to trust your child’s judgement. After all, it’s their degree, their experience and it should be their decision.

Lynette MathewsDirectorThe College Planning Center

Give your student a chance to develop and voice their own opinion.

As a parent, you must realize that you will not be attending college with your student. If they are going to be successful at the college, they will need to be comfortable on campus without you. It is perfectly acceptable and expected for parents to attend the college tour with students, and you can certainly ask a few questions. However, If you have more than a few questions, call or email the school prior to the visit to get your questions answered. Allow students to roam the campus without you and encourage them to set up meetings ahead of time with an academic adviser for their department, coach, music director or other school representative. Most importantly, as difficult as it may be — hold back on your opinions of the school until after your student has had a chance to develop and voice their opinion.

Janet Elfers

What should parents do during campus visits?

Parents should stand back and observe during the campus visit. This is the chance for your child to practice being engaged in the process. The parents’ role takes place BEFORE the visit happens. Ahead of time, have a discussion with your child about what kinds of information you both want to get from the visit. Encourage your child to brainstorm the kinds of questions he/she will want to ask. Practice asking follow-up questions with each other. Check other Unigo answers for suggestions about what factors you might want to learn on your visit. Your kids will often allow you to take over the questions and discussion with tour guides. Kids: don’t let them! Take charge of your own campus tour.

Jessica BrondoFounder and CEOThe Edge in College Prep

What should parents do during campus visits?

The campus tour is so that the student can get a feel for the campus and ask questions about what it’s like to live and study there. Their job is to decide if they like the school and if it feels like a good fit for them. That is not the parents’ jobs to be asking those questions. However, a parent must think of the logistical issues of putting their child through college- paying for it, getting them to and from school, etc. A parent’s job on the college tour is to ask the all the questions they need to find out if this is a school they can help their child succeed at. Remember, parents know their kids better than anyone so they can help their child process what they learn, and maybe think of the questions they forgot, but they are there as a support team.

Benjamin Waldmann

What should parents do during campus visits?

In my opinion, not a lot. A campus visit is not a parents day but a student’s. It is a great way for parent’s to soak in the atmosphere of where a potential student may be spending the next 4 years of their life, however too much interferance is not needed as it’s not the parents but their son or daughter who will be attending. A parent’s ability to analyse important element’s in a college may become very beneficial in giving one’s son or daughter constructive feedback. Some prospective student’s try to make decision’s based upon emotion or specific factor’s such as how big the school is, how big the football stadium is or how many attractive student’s of the opposite sex they see walking across campus. Although this is a very exciting time, it can be good to have another perspective that can ground a prospective student to tick off the core criteria of a college is met e.g. the right major, transport options, college prestige, alumni connections, extracurricular activity access etc… But overall parent’s need to remember that only the student will know whether that college feels like the right fit and although financial support may be covered by the parents, the most important aspect is that one’s son or daughter feels safe, secure and able to express his/her potential in the overall college experience.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

What should parents do during campus visits?

There’s a fine line between being involved and being TOO involved with your child’s college search, campus visits, and so on. Parents should always be available as a sounding board for their children’s college ideas and perhaps to provide some guidance in staying focused once in awhile, but they should avoid pushing their own agenda, as much as possible. That being said, it’s important to remember that, since this college venture will, in most cases, involve a heavy financial commitment on the part of parents, they do have a right to be involved in the process. Now, about the campus visits: Parents should encourage their children to be pro-active in seeking out information and visiting areas of the schools that will be relevant to the student. The colleges/universities to be visited should be well-researched BEFORE the visit. It will be worthwhile if both students and parents are aware of the college culture and offerings when they arrive on campus. Then the visit will provide further layers of understanding. Your visit will typically consist of a group information session and a guided tour of the campus. Before visiting each school, it will be helpful for students to prepare a list of questions that they would like to have answered during the visit. Parents and students can work together in preparing this list. Then, during the Q&A period after the information session or during the tour, the student can pose some of these questions if they have not already been answered. The presentation and tour may also trigger new questions that had not previously been considered. Both parents and students should, of course, feel free to ask those questions, but parents should make a concerted effort not to steam roll through the process, taking the control away from their children. If parents consider themselves primarily as “observers” of the process, rather than the focal point, the occasional parental question will not seem to be a move to take over. As partners in the visit, parents and their children can complement one another, in that some of the aspects that they consider important will undoubtedly differ. If the student has scheduled an interview while at the school, parents will not be actively involved during the interview. While waiting in the lobby of the Admissions Office, they can be gathering brochures which may be of interest to their children and reading some of the materials available, which will perhaps trigger other questions. Remember that the point of the visit is for the student (and his/her parents) to gather information and gain as much insight as possible into the institution. After each visit, parents can give their children a chance to talk about their impressions of the school, making appropriate comments or asking relevant questions, but without trying to actively manipulate the student’s conclusions. Talking about those impressions will give the student a chance to better understand what they themselves like and don’t like about any given institution – what excites them and what turns them off.

Karen Ekman-BaurDirector of College CounselingLeysin American School

What should parents do during campus visits?

There’s a fine line between being involved and being TOO involved with your child’s college search, campus visits, and so on. Parents should always be available as a sounding board for their children’s college ideas and perhaps to provide some guidance in staying focused once in awhile, but they should avoid pushing their own agenda, as much as possible. That being said, it’s important to remember that, since this college venture will, in most cases, involve a heavy financial commitment on the part of parents, they do have a right to be involved in the process. Now, about the campus visits: Parents should encourage their children to be pro-active in seeking out information and visiting areas of the schools that will be relevant to the student. The colleges/universities to be visited should be well-researched BEFORE the visit. It will be worthwhile if both students and parents are aware of the college culture and offerings when they arrive on campus. Then the visit will provide further layers of understanding. Your visit will typically consist of a group information session and a guided tour of the campus. Before visiting each school, it will be helpful for students to prepare a list of questions that they would like to have answered during the visit. Parents and students can work together in preparing this list. Then, during the Q&A period after the information session or during the tour, the student can pose some of these questions if they have not already been answered. The presentation and tour may also trigger new questions that had not previously been considered. Both parents and students should, of course, feel free to ask those questions, but parents should make a concerted effort not to steam roll through the process, taking the control away from their children. If parents consider themselves primarily as “observers” of the process, rather than the focal point, the occasional parental question will not seem to be a move to take over. As partners in the visit, parents and their children can complement one another, in that the aspects that they consider important will probably differ. If the student has scheduled an interview while at the school, parents will not be actively involved during the interview. While waiting in the lobby of the Admissions Office, they can be gathering brochures which may be of interest to their children and reading some of the materials available, which will perhaps trigger other questions. Remember that the point of the visit is for the student (and his/her parents) to gather as much information and gain as much insight as possible about the institution. After each visit, parents can give their children a chance to talk about their impressions of the school, making appropriate comments or asking relevant questions, but without trying to actively manipulate the student’s conclusions. Talking about those impressions will give the student a chance to better understand what they themselves like and don’t like about any given institution – what excites them and what turns them off.

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

What should parents do during campus visits?

Be sure to stay out of the financial aid office! Try to take a back seat, but if certain questions aren’t asked on the tour, make sure to ask them for your student.

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