Do you think it’s necessary to go on college visits?
Yes, but that doesn’t mean I think you should visit each and every college your child expresses an interests in. I think there’s a time and place for them, and I don’t really champion the whole idea of taking a road trip just to visit colleges. Chances are you’re busy and so is your child.
I think college visits are both a rite of passage and a helpful way for you and your child to weed out schools. Your child is able to see the schools for him/herself and determine if he/she can see him/herself living there for the next four years. You’re able to get first-hand experience of the college’s culture, see what the area is like, and maybe even meet with some of the professors if you plan the visit right.
In some ways, going on a college visit is a lot like looking for a house or apartment. You shop around, you compare prices, you take tours, maybe you even get to meet the neighbors or previous tenants, and you ultimately invest in one.
And just like when you’re shopping for a house or apartment, sometimes you don’t have the luxury of driving or flying out to every place that interests you before buying. Much like homes or apartments, college campuses offer virtual tours, giving you and your child the opportunity to walk around campus from the comfort of your sofa.
Because college visits can often be expensive and time-consuming, I recommend reserving them for the schools your child is really conflicted on. Visiting a campus is one of the best ways to make a decision about whether or not the school is for him/her. They’re a great learning opportunity and give you a fun opportunity to bond with your child over his/her future.
So while they aren’t mandatory by any means, I do think they’re helpful when it comes to helping your child decide which school to spend the next four years of their life at. Sometimes it is beneficial to wait for acceptances to come in and then take the tour of his/her top choices.
For some ideas on how to get the most from your college visits, you can check out this article from the Princeton Review. And here are some more suggestions from NYT on how to make the most of your college visits. Here is a good list of questions for you or your child to ask while you’re on campus.