How Can Working Parents Avoid College Visit Mistakes?

Did you know that college visit season is about to start for many of your employees with high school students? Instead of a relaxing week at the beach or Saturdays spent hosting backyard barbecues, those employees will log countless hours behind the wheeland potentially spend a lot of moneytaking their children to tour college campuses near and far. I recently blogged for the Huffington Post about the top five college visit mistakes that people make, and offered a number of tips that can help employees make the most of their time and money.

Top 5 College Visit Mistakes

1. Not planning ahead

You'll invest a lot in these visits, so try not to do them too spontaneously. The last thing you want to do is arrive to find that the campus is closed down for the Memorial Day holiday or that it is parents' weekend and all the local hotel rooms are booked.

Start with the schools' websites to get the times of the information sessions and tours. At some schools these are available every day, and all you will need to do is show up. Others will offer fewer options that require advanced registration. Planning to visit on a Sunday? Most schools don't do official programming on these days but may provide directions for a walking tour that you can download and print prior to arrival or follow on a smart phone.

2. Not making the most of the time on campus

While it's good to attend the officially sanctioned campus tour and information session, a great visit will also include things like eating a meal in a dining hall, sitting in on a class, meeting with a professor or a coach, walking around campus on your own, picking up a student newspaper, looking at the bulletin boards around you, and even interviewing if that is an on-campus option.

You won't be able to do many of these if you don't schedule them in advance (see mistake number one!). That can make it harder to know if this school is really a good choice for you, but it also means that you are missing some opportunities to impact your application in a positive way. A focused student with some clear academic goals might impress the department director in a one-on-one meeting, while a vocal class participant could prompt a professor to email a note of support to an admissions colleague.

Check out my list of advice to avoid all five of the top college visit mistakes.

Using Employee Benefits to Help With College Visits

Those employees with the College Coach benefit can get even more individualized advice, including a list of suggested colleges and tips about how to plan and make the most of visits to those schools, so they can stop worrying about how to choose a college and start concentrating on their work.

Written by: Elizabeth Heaton

About the Author

As Vice President, Educational Consulting, College Coach, Elizabeth Heaton leads Bright Horizons Education & College Advising's strategic marketing efforts and is responsible for partnerships and new product development. She also oversees manages both the retail sales team and a team of . expert advistors. Elizabeth began her admissions career at the University of Pennsylvania, where she chaired university selection committees, evaluated potential athletic recruits as one of the school’s athletics liaisons, and oversaw the university’s portfolio of admissions publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Cornell University and is a member of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling.