How to Plan a College Visit: A Parent’s Guide

If you have a child who is a junior or senior in high school, you may be thinking about selecting a college or university. The best way for teens to get to know their options (and to see firsthand what university is like) is to visit! Here’s how to plan a college visit with your high schooler.

Narrow Down Your College Search

No one can visit every school they’re interested in, especially if the schools are spread out geographically. Start by visiting schools online using each school website’s “virtual tour” option. Then, decide what type of school your child is interested in: big or small, state or private, liberal arts or tech/trade. Once you’re ready to officially tour colleges with your junior or senior, schedule visits via the school’s admissions page. You can also check each school’s Facebook page to find upcoming events. It’s important to visit a variety of schools, so find several schools in reasonable proximity to visit in one trip. Be sure to visit at least one large school and one small school as well as one in the countryside and one in a downtown area of a city. Even if your child thinks they know that a big, urban school is right for them, they may change their mind after seeing a small, rural campus, or vice versa.

If your child is interested in schools that are too far away for a visit, visit a similar school within driving distance. For example, if your child is interested in a small, liberal arts private school on the other side of the country, visit a similarly structured school closer to home. The local school may not be on his or her shortlist, but it will give your child a feel for the general philosophy and campus life of the desired school. And who knows? Maybe your child will love it!


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