What should parents do during campus visits?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

What should parents do during campus visits?

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon 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.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY 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. Choi
Owner Admissions 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!

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne 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.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational 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.

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

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.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar 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.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora 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.

Geoff Broome
Assistant Director of Admissions Widener 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.