A college tour is designed to make your teen want to attend that school. Both you and your child need to look past the lovely architecture and the tour guide’s upbeat script to get a true feel for the campus.
Remember: Your teen is the one who will be attending college, not you. Let your child take the lead in asking questions and requesting to experience specific places on campus.
Here are some steps to take during a visit to campus:
Encourage my kid to sit in on a lecture.
Notice how the students interact with each other and with the professor or teaching assistant. Could your child learn in this environment? What is his or her impression of student-teacher relationships?
Visit a dorm room with my kid.
Most schools have several living facilities, so try to visit them all. Does your teen feel comfortable in the dorms? What other living options are open to freshmen?
Point out the campus bulletin boards to my kid.
Notices about social events, community service opportunities, people needing rides home, and ads for tutoring services tell a lot about the things that are important to students. Reading the campus newspaper can also provide you and your teen with a more in-depth look at campus life.
Ask if my kid and I can eat on campus.
Visit the dining hall or the food court. Look at what it has to offer and sit down for a meal. Your child will eat here, so make sure the food appeals. Sure, the unlimited ice cream looks enticing, but are there also a variety of healthy foods to eat?
Tip: Try to visit campus at a time other than a special event designed for high school students. The quality of the dining hall food is often better on "showcase" days than it is on a regular school day.
Look at details like the condition of restrooms on campus.
Seriously, do it. Unsanitary restrooms may be a sign of other deficiencies. If the campus areas used by the public aren't up to par, what about the areas that visitors don't usually see? Peeling paint in dorms or sagging lounge furniture also tell a story you may not want to hear.
Use a checklist to make sure I have all the information I need.
Items to consider include:
Academic programs-majors, class size, study abroad, research opportunities
Housing-dormitories, off-campus student housing
Campus student life-clubs and organizations, politics, social activism, entertainment