Parents and campus visits: What NOT to do

By Tam Warner Minton, College Adventures
06/01/2015
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Yes, parents, this one is for you! In my work with students I discuss what to do on a campus visit, what to look for, what to ask, what to wear. But often, it is the parents who need the advice!

The first no-no on a campus visit is the royal “we”

Parents, it is not “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. I had a parent who forced their student to stand up and ask a question, and the student said, “my dad wants me to ask you…” Need I detail my horror when I heard about that? In retrospect I can laugh, but believe me, that kind of scene does NOT help your student’s cause in admissions!

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. Also, turn off your cellphone! No calls on a campus tour! Your attitude and behavior reflects on your student…make a good impression!

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. You do not need to stress that the student is a legacy or a National Merit Scholar or a champion wrestler: all of this will come out in the application and admission process. Use your very best manners and friendliest countenance, ask concise and polite questions, and let your student take the lead.

The college admission process should be student-driven, not parent-driven. Colleges want to see independent, confident young people who can handle the process on their own. Overbearing parents, stay away from the process!

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