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5 Tips For a Better Campus Visit
1. Make sure the college knows you are there. Establish some contact with the admissions office because many colleges, though not all, track your level of interest in their school and the campus visit is one of the most important factors that is tracked.
2. Divide and conquer. Parents should separate and let their child go with a different tour guide. A child may take the visit a little more seriously when parents are not around, may ask his or her own questions, and you'll have a good conversation comparing your two tours.
3. Get lost. Wander on your own and explore what makes each college unique. Go beyond the standard visit. "It is worth more than two hours of your time if you might be spending four years of your life there". If the college is worthy of your visit, then dedicate sufficient time to tour the area around the campus, sit in on a class, have a meal in the dining hall, visit buildings and areas that weren't on the formal campus tour.
4. Ask good questions. Better yet don't ask stupid questions that can be answered by doing basic research, such as "Do you require four years of a foreign language?" or "What are your middle 50 percent SAT scores?" Some good questions might include: How many students work on research projects with faculty? What types of honors courses, learning communities and other distinctive programs are offered?
5. Carve out time to meet with current students. If you don't have any connection with students at the school, then head to the dining hall. Be bold and walk up to a table of students, tell them you're touring colleges and have a few questions. I've never had a student turned away at any school. College kids are usually thrilled to talk with prospective students and they will typically be unabashedly honest. Start with some basic questions: "Are you happy here? Why" Why not?" "How interesting are your classes/professors?" "How accessible and responsive are your professors?" "Is this college worth the price you pay?" You will likely learn more in that 10-minute interchange with a group of current students than during the information session or the tours.