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.