Many families will consider taking a trip to visit some of the colleges that their child is interested in applying to. While these visits provide great exposure to a college, the costs from these visits add up quickly. If cost is a concern, discuss with your child what type of college she is interested in applying to. Information about specific programs or a college’s unique attributes are readily available online. As a former campus tour guide, let me assure you that the info sessions and tours often regurgitate the information available on a college’s website.
Your child should research prospective colleges before going on any college visits to come up with a list of potential fits for her. You can help your child find colleges that may be a good fit based on her own interests and preferences. An applicant that wants to study business as an undergraduate may not be interested in applying to colleges that do not offer business majors. Before jetting off to a liberal arts college for a tour, ask your child what she is looking for in her college education.
With admissions rates frighteningly low at many selective colleges, it may make more sense to visit colleges after your child has been admitted, especially if the cost of applying to and paying for college is a concern.
A word of advice from my own experience applying to college: I ended up deciding between the only two colleges I did not visit before I applied. In hindsight, I wish I would have saved my parents the thousands of dollars we spent in flights, car rentals, and hotels and waited to see where I was accepted before visiting.