Parent College Coach Tip #35: Don’t Skip the College Visits

college visitA few years ago, I wrote an article for Smart College Visit about the importance of college visits: Don’t Pick a College Sight Unseen:

As a parent of two kids who attended college, I learned a very valuable lesson: never pick a college sight unseen. The rules that apply to any major purchase are even more important when making the decision to invest thousands of dollars on a college education. You would never buy a car without test-driving it, or move into a home without taking a walk through and getting a home inspection. Based on my experience with both my kids, I can tell you that your teen should never accept admission to a college without getting a feel for the campus and campus life.

You can read the entire story about my kids and how the visit made all the difference here.

Why are the college visits so important?

The college visits are one of the most crucial components in choosing a college. Without visiting, your student won’t have the key to choosing a college: can he see himself attending there. You may think that’s a shallow argument but when it all comes down to it, if he doesn’t “feel” it, he won’t be happy there. So be prepared for some unusual responses when you visit:

  • Before you even get out of the car your kid announces that he’s just not feeling it. Don’t even attempt to decipher what that means because it’s impossible to understand.
  • You’re walking around campus and your kid announces that he doesn’t like how it looks. Never mind that he’s not going to college for the buildings or the landscaping.
  • You’re walking around campus and your kid announces that the students don’t seem friendly. Mind you he’s probably not even spoken to any of them and it’s a good bet he didn’t like the tour guide.
  • You get back into the car after your last visit and he announces, “I’m not sure I want to go to college”. Don’t panic. He’s just realized the whole thing is real and he’s terrified.

RELATED: Avoid Wasting Time & Money on Your College Visits with these Visit DON’Ts

How can parents keep their sanity?

Even though your kid wants you to treat him as an adult, he’s still a teenager. His emotions are all over the place and this next step in his life is frightening. Remember that college is largely an emotional decision and you should expect that emotions will play into that decision. When the dust settles and the emotions clear, he will make a decision based on all the factors, including his campus visits. After all, you don’t want him to attend a college he just isn’t feeling and you don’t want him to make a decision and leave out the emotional factor. He’s going to spend the next four years of his life at this school. It will become his second home and it’s important that he likes where he is.

Before the college visits start resolve to be flexible. Your lives will be less stressful and the college application experience will be more exciting. And in the end, your kid will move on to the next phase in his life–college.

RELATED: How many colleges should you visit?

Read all of the Parent College Coach Tips here.