Going on tour: Tips for successful and productive visits to U.S. Schools, Colleges and Universities

Here are some fundamental tips to remember no matter when you have the chance to visit campus in person.

  • Register with the admissions office and take an official tour whenever offered
  • Take notes and ask questions
  • Visit the local community nearest campus

If you are a family still considering the options for future study, you should consider making campus visits during a vacation or in conjunction with a summer camp or academic program. This is a great way to both become more informed as well as to introduce your son or daughter to what options are out there – many students come away from school visits enthusiastic about the idea and energized going into the application process.

For families who have decided to move forward with the application process, school visits should incorporate an additional layer of engagement before, during and after your trip.

  • Before: Register online with the school. Call them to let you know you are coming and schedule an official tour and interview if possible. Do your research – learn about the school and note any areas that are of interest to your child or specific questions you may have that are not addressed online or in school materials. Prepare for the interview!
  • During: Be yourself. While it’s important to be well informed, it is just as important to be curious, open and enthusiastic. Parents – while it might be tempting to ask all your questions during the tour, give your student a chance to engage with the process. Keep notes of your thoughts, observations and questions. Students – participate in the tour by listening carefully and observing students and faculty around campus. Try to imagine yourself as one of them and how that makes you feel. Ask questions in context if you have them and be polite.
  • After: When the tour/ interview is done, visit a local café or restaurant. Take note of the local community. Would you want to spend your Saturday afternoon there? Compare notes as a family, and let the student speak first. Students should write a thank you note or email to whomever they met with on campus – mention something specific you learned or enjoyed and feel free to ask any further questions that might remain.

The final type of trip is done after the application process is finished and the choices available are clear. Many students and families decide to travel once they have received acceptance letters, especially if there are schools that the student has not yet visited or if the decision about which school to attend is difficult to make. These trips are different in that the admissions office will assist with opportunities to see classes, eat with students and some will find a student host for an overnight stay.

These are all chances to get a more intimate perspective into a school’s student body, campus atmosphere and academic program. Most importantly, school visits will assist you and your student in determining the school that is the best fit for his or her learning style and personality.