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.

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.

Maureen Lawler
College Counselor Bishop 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.

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!

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.

Lynette Mathews
Director The 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.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin 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.

Zulema Wascher
Counselor Rio 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.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton 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.