01 Aug Part 6 – Travel & On-campus Visit Tips
Tips to help you and your teen prepare in advance for travel and on-campus visits
The first thing I tell students (and parents) before they leave for their on-campus college visits: Wear comfortable shoes! You will be doing a lot of walking, and you want to be able to focus on your surroundings and what the guide is saying not on your feet!
Also, check the weather forecast for the period that you will be away, particularly if you are traveling any distance. While the weather can change at any given moment, it will be an indicator of how to prepare. You may want to pack a couple of travel umbrellas in your suitcase, as tours run during rain or shine.
Some colleges do have umbrellas on hand should it rain, but not always and it will depend on the size of the group. If you have enough time and you’d rather have a souvenir from the college, you can stop at the bookstore and pick one up there.
Pack so you are prepared to dress in layers; the weather might start out chilly and warm up significantly as the day progresses. If some of your on-campus college visits take place during the winter and you’re headed to a cold climate, and will be driving from place-to-place, keep in mind that you might hit a snowstorm. Be prepared by packing a small flashlight and a blanket just in case!
Your teen will have the best experience possible by preparing in advance of her on-campus college visits. Share with her that she should write down any questions that she might have questions that cannot be answered by reviewing what’s online or in the colleges printed material(s). She will then be able to ask these questions during the group information session and/or during her walk around campus with the tour guide.
Questions for information session might include:
- Does the college guarantee on-campus housing for four years?
- If not, does the college help students find off-campus housing?
- Does a student have to declare a specific major when applying to the university?
- If so, how difficult and what is the process for changing that major?
If your teen is meeting with a faculty member, she should review the information about the major she is interested in and the department in general. Again, her questions should be of the sort that cannot be answered in the information she has on hand. She has a limited amount of one-on-one time with the faculty member and should use this time to get the important questions answered.
Questions for faculty might include:
- What makes the program at this college unique?
- Is it possible for majors in this department to study abroad?
- At what point can undergraduates do department research?
If you have arranged for an interview during some of your on-campus college visits, make time to practice questions and answers at home, with you as the interviewer. Assure your teen that she should be herself. She should answer questions honestly, and let her know that it’s ok to show her (tasteful) sense of humor.
She should be friendly and stay positive, be assertive and mention what she has done in and out of high school. She should also be a good listener as well. Make sure she arrives on time, and if you have to cancel for any reason, call ahead of time to let the admissions office know. Your teen can also prepare a few questions that shed light to ask the interviewer. This is a good time for her to learn more about the college.
Please contact me if you’d like a copy of the Tips for College Interviews that I give to my students. If you follow the above guidelines as well as those in the rest of this series, your on-campus college visits should not only run smoothly, but your teen will get a true sense of the culture of the community of each college that she visits.