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Campus Visit: Making the Most of Summer College Tours

You and your child may already have begun the college visiting process, and are well aware that the best time to see a school is when regular classes are in full swing. Unfortunately, this is also when your child is at his or her busiest. Scheduling campus visits around your child's academic work, sports activities, and other extracurriculars can be a headache, which is one reason why so many families opt to conduct visits during vacations. If you are planning to check out prospective colleges this summer, here's a checklist to help you make the most of your trip.

Before You Leave

  • Schedule a tour. This may seem like a no-brainer, but arranging college visits is more difficult over the slow summer months than in the spring or fall. Search each school's website to see when tours are offered. If the school has a summer session, drop in when those classes have started-or schedule a tour during the August freshman orientation, when more people will be on campus. Once you have nailed down a tour slot (and interview, if applicable) reserve any necessary lodgings or transportation.
  • Schedule interview(s). Even when classes aren't in session, some faculty and staff will still be on campus. Encourage your child to find out who's available for a quick interview during your time there. On-campus interviews are typically conducted by an admissions officer.
  • Make a list of what's important. Does your child intend to major in chemistry? Plan to check out a chem lab. Does he or she want to try out for the swim team? Visit the school's pool facilities. Consult this helpful Campus Visit Checklist from the College Board to ensure you've thought of everything you might like to see.
  • Research the college. Encourage your child to review the college's website, especially if the visit will include an interview. It's always best to show up for interviews armed with relevant and thoughtful questions about the school in question.
  • Do a pre-tour. Sites like Campus Tours and ECampusTours allow you take a virtual tour of many popular colleges and universities. Though no substitute for an actual college visit, virtual tours highlight campus attractions and can help you plan your trip.
  • Double-check plans before you leave. Summer tour schedules tend to be a bit more fluid, shifting to accommodate staff vacation time, campus renovations, etc. Call ahead to be sure that your tour is happening when you think it is.

On Your Tour

  • Take pictures and make notes. Details from different colleges can blend together all too quickly. Did your child have that great talk with the English professor at College X or at University Y? Which school had the beautiful green and which school had the state-of-the-art engineering buildings? Try using the College Board's Campus Visit Score Card to help organize your impressions of each school.
  • Check out the facilities. Make sure to see buildings where your child will be spending much of his or her time, including first-year dorms, dining halls, libraries, and gyms. Also remember to take a look at the student union and other on-campus hangouts.
  • Chat with a current student. Tour guides are usually more than happy to talk about their school, and if possible, try to speak with other students as well. About.com offers a fantastic list of must-ask campus tour questions.

Immediately after Your Visit

  • Stay in touch. Ask for an email address from the tour guide or other students your child meets. These contacts will be handy if additional questions pop up.
  • See the town. Although a majority of your child's time will be spent on campus, he or she will certainly venture farther afield, and may even live off campus as a junior or senior. Walk or drive around the area, because the local amenities and "vibe" can make a big difference.
  • Say thanks. Encourage your child to send a thank-you email to admissions officers, professors, coaches, and anyone else who took the time to chat. Simple courtesy will leave a lasting good impression.

If you have further questions about the college application process, please feel to visit StudyPoint's Tutoring Resource Center, or learn more about prospective schools at StudyPoint's College & University Profiles. We also invite you to contact a member of our Enrollment Team at 1-87STUDYPOINT (1-877-883-9764).

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