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GUEST STUDENT OF THE WEEK: ski_racer, a high-achiever in high school, was rejected by some of the elite schools she applied to. This rejection was the best thing that happened to her as she got to choose her own path. Learn how she fell in love with her safety school, ASK HER ANYTHING!
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How do you afford all those college visits?


Replies to: How do you afford all those college visits?

  • calmomcalmom 20897 replies168 threads Senior Member
    I wrote:
    I do think my daughter learned some things about herself and what she wanted on college visits -- but it happened that way only because she was traveling alone...there's a lot of value to the dry run experience of doing it solo)
    TheDad wrote
    CM, I think it depends on dynamic between parents & student. We didn't ask embarrassing questions and often we split up during a visit but we were, as a trio, very business-like on comparing notes and cross-checking impressions.
    I think you misunderstood my comment. I am not talking about the observations that a student might make alone vs. being with a parent, I am talking about the overall experience of traveling alone to the campus, managing planes or buses or trains alone, finding one's own way around campus, and staying on the campus for an extended time, either as a formal overnight or the guest of another student. It is an early preview of the very real experience the student will have later on. My d. simply had experiences that she could not possibly have had if she had she been staying in a hotel room with a parent.

    For example: she figured out that she did not like Washington DC and did not a want a LAC. She had traveled to DC with the family at least twice before and loved all the touristy things -- and enjoyed her day on her own at the Smithsonian on her college visit too. But when left to her own devices, she decided that DC was not her kind of town - something that she might not have figured out if her evening had been spent dining in a restaurant with a parent. She had an overnight at an LAC and realized it was not for her when she felt so distressed over being "stuck" there on her own in the evening after the planned activities (interview, tour, class visits).

    Then she went to NY and fell in love with the city and NYU. NYU was not even on her agenda for colleges to visit. The only reason it suddenly morphed into a top choice is that she had to stay with someone in NY, and she had a good friend at NYU so was an overnight guest in a dorm. It was her experience Greenwich Village, with peers, that sold her on the city. Would she have had that same epiphany about city life while staying in a hotel room on the upper west side with Mom in preparation for a Barnard visit? Probably not.

    I understand why many parents find it enjoyable to be part of the process and enjoy the time spent with their kids. I remember feeling kind of sad when my d. got her driver's license and I let go of that daily commute time spent with her -- the best conversations with teens always seem to take place in the car. But the kids will be in college on their own -- and on their own means that their real-life college experience will likely be impacted by the geography and the type and availability of public transportation, and the social life available on-campus and in easily accessible off-campus areas. That is something the kid will get a taste of traveling on their own.

    It isn't what my daughter learned about the colleges that really was so important with the visits; its what she learned about herself.
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  • TheDadTheDad ! 9905 replies323 threads Senior Member
    Ah. Well, D did enough traveling on her own outside of college search that that wasn't an issue. She's probably the most accomplished traveler of the three of us at this point. I do LOL at comparing experience of respective D's: NYU was the one school that evoked the "Get me out of here, we're not taking the tour" response.
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  • KathycKathyc 594 replies28 threads Member
    D had the same reaction to NYU--get me out of here. Since we live in California, we have done most of the East Coast schools as family vacations--one trip to NY for Cornell that also morphed into Columbia, and another spring break trip (with Dad) to Boston for BU, BC, Tufts and Brown. She was able to write off BC and Brown after the trip, so that was useful. She's visited Northwestern while in Chicago to see Grandma. She has visited all of the California schools either because we live close or her aunt took her. The only school she's applying to she hasn't visited is Purdue, so if that becomes important we'll do that next spring. Some of her early possibilities she dropped before we had to figure out how we were going to visit, which helped. She also was adamant no LAC's, which also narrowed the field.
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  • calmomcalmom 20897 replies168 threads Senior Member
    : NYU was the one school that evoked the "Get me out of here, we're not taking the tour" response
    They give tours?

    My d arrived to NY fairly late in the evening-- it was at least midnight for her when I got the ecstatic phone call from her.

    That's the whole point: very different experience from arriving at 10 am with a parent in tow for a scheduled information session.
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  • PharmagalPharmagal 1209 replies57 threads Senior Member

    If you have any friends or relatives where your S or D are applying, I would suggest now is the time to make a call and see if you can visit them. Even if you save on hotel bills, you will have pretty good savings.

    Try reserving air tickets way in advance of your flights. Go by a bus if the destination is within 5-6 hours drive. Bus tickets are generally cheaper than flights.

    Staying with a relative might also save you rental car costs.
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  • riverrunnerriverrunner 2663 replies52 threads Senior Member
    calmom, I agree with making sure they make at least one visit alone. We did the orginal NE tour together in the spring of her senior year, but starting in July, she made 4 trips from our home in the NW to various schools in the NE. She worked out ground transportation, hotel, finding her appointments, and finding her way home. Like you, I wanted her to understand that choosing a school far away means she would need to become a very resourceful and independent traveler. I also wanted her to realize it may be inconvenient to come home sometimes, and this fact should be part of the college decision. This is one of the things you learn about a school that just can't be figured out from the website.
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  • bethievtbethievt 6591 replies168 threads Senior Member
    My son learned a huge amount about himself through this whole process too, even though he didn't do any visits on his own. The essays, the interviews, deciding where to apply, deciding where to go. Whew. I can see that negotiating the travel thing could have been valuable too, but he did make it home for Oct break without me.
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20987 replies2055 threads Super Moderator
    Whether or not to visit depends on a lot of things; timing, affordabilty, access to free/ fly-in programs (my D did a number of them and many of them had more students who were non-URMs than URMs, as they also look at low income, and students from places off the beaten path, although we live in NYC and there were many programs that took students from the tri-state area for a nominal fee- usually the cost of transportation which was sometimes reimbursed).

    We did a number of visits during the 10th, 11, and 12th grade as D wanted specific things (any school with out easy access to study abroad did not make the cut). The visits we great because it helped her put some schools in persective. It was important for D to see a wide variety of schools (large, medium, small, urban, suburan, rural). Had we/she not done visits, she would have been perfectly content being in NYC. It took the visits to help her see that she did not want her entire educational experience to take place on the island of Manhattan. In the end my D, did not even apply to a school that she had not stayed overnight and attended classes.

    Before visiting my D thought that she would be more than happy attending the 'big 3" if admitted however, after visiting and sitting in on classes, D found out that they were not the right place for her and scratched them off her list .

    It took a term of taking classes at Columbia and NYU to knock them off her list she would constantly say "I wouldn't go there on a bet." However, at the same time, visiting and sitting in on classes at Barnard and attending a number of their events made it one of her favorite schools. I would ask her, what was the difference and she would say "You can totally feel the difference between the 2 schools."

    In addition there were schools that flew under her radar and she would have never considered (the women colleges, Williams, Dartmouth), but it was the visit, tour, talking with other students and sitting in on classes that really helped changed her perception on these schools.

    The school she now attends happens to be the very last school she visted before applying. She left for the visit with the mind set of "hey it's a couple of days out of the city." I called my sister to tell her that Chicky went for a visit and she laughed saying that the fresh air would kill her and she will come running back home, Chicky came home and said "this is the place." One night during senior year, my D told me "mom, I really like my high school but I want to love my college and be with people who love their college too." As I have said for the past 3+ years, I was the last person who would have thought that my "there is NYC and there is everywhere else" kid would have found her bliss in rural NH. She has never waivered from her decision.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30460 replies59 threads Senior Member
    I think visits have become the norm, and I cannot say they are not beneficial. But I have known kids for whom the reality of being at a college did not match the visit. Even multiple visits. Sometimes the visits are staged events. I know that our last visit was, as it was a very well put together open house. There are kids who end up hating the school after all.

    Also, most of my generation did not do these visits. I applied sight unseen to all of my colleges. I first saw my college choice when I arriived to move in. That was just the way it went. Some of us hated our choice. Many of us ended up making it home. It's hard not to do this now since it has become the norm. BUt I wonder sometimes when I see kids agonizing over Holyoke vs Smith or, Wisconsin vs Indiana, Connecticut College vs Skidmore, how much of a difference it is going to make in a given situation. Most of these kids are going to be happy anywhere, some will not be happy anywhere, and most are not going to be unhappy over slight differences between similar colleges. Unless you are looking at a college in a whole new part of the country where you child has no familiarity, I would not feel that upset if you can't do the visits. THe problem has become that with some schools you pretty much must visit to get in. And now I hear parents worried that it was not enough of a visit! Yeah, and yet I understand, as I am feeling a bit uncomfortable about the staged welcome my son got at this last visit that I know is not the way college life will be at any school. But at least he got a good dose of the environment, and I did take the time to look around outside of the school as ell. But folks these days make multiple visits to colleges. They visit when they are looking for where to apply. They visit when they decide to apply there. They may revisit for an interview or an extra show of interest. They visit again when they are accepted to help decide if that's where they want to go. Then they go to welcoming day. Then orientation, sometimes held over the summer. Then again to go to school. No wonder some parents are pitching the family day invitations! They are tired of going there, and they have just been rid of the kid, already! LOL
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  • cartera45cartera45 12381 replies86 threads Senior Member
    I also discovered Priceline for college visits. I just love checking into my $50 a night room and overhearing others paying over 3 times that. If you're not comfortable using Priceline, I have also had great luck with Hotwire. With a little research, you can identify the hotels before going with the deal. They are not as cheap as Priceline, but you have more control. I have not been surprised yet.
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  • CountingDownCountingDown 13768 replies114 threads Senior Member
    DS has studiously avoided doing the Open House weekends. He likes to see the school as-it-is, warts and all. He's not impressed by the glitzy PR presentations, and I suspect that when next April rolls around, he will visit on the weekends that do NOT have accepted student presentations taking place.

    YMMV -- DS has an unusual take on this stuff.
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  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions 12571 replies759 threads Senior Member
    THe problem has become that with some schools you pretty much must visit to get in

    I think the poster got carried away here, within a very interesting posting. While it is true there are some schools that make notes of "expressed student interest" and drop them into the candidate's file, this can also be accomplished by emailing questions to the admissions officer or contacting an alumni representative (by email or in person) who lives closer by.

    One reason I'd recommend really looking at the schools with Multicultural Visit Days is they are recognizing that the visit can be a financial burden on some. It was also noteworthy to me that, in the one I looked up (Oberlin) the eligibility merely said a person of color...and was silent on the financial need dimension. So, a person should not assume that, by taking their opportunity to visit this way, they make any statement of finances whatsoever!

    Purpose of my posting is just to politely mention that the OP shouldn't imagine "not getting in because we didn't visit." That's a very discouraging message and likely untrue. I sometimes write impassioned posts and recognize it was probably said with a different idea in mind. Did not want to discourage this OP in any way, thinking about her kid's chances.

    Now, there ARE some colleges that say on their websites, "Visits strongly encouraged..." but that could be because their location causes some students to eliminate them from consideration, while a visit tends to enthuse candidates greatly. They are recruiting, after all, and some places really "visit" well and cause more kids to want to apply. That's different than thinking "I can't get accepted there if I don't visit them, too."

    Do others have experience to say a non-visit kills an application? I hope not!
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30460 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Um, I am pretty close to quoting an admission director here. If you do not visit some schools, especially if you apply from afar, you will be at a disadvantage in admissions. Also, the GCs from several different highschool (from my kids) have said the same thing about some schools. it is not engraved in stone, but it is a pretty strong situation at some schools. If you do not visit, you should have a reason why you are not visiting at such school.
    The adcom, by the way, said it was not a matter of showing lack of interest that is a problem, when a student does not visit. They have not had a good track record of kids coming from afar if they have not at least checked out the area. If you are a Southerner applying to a small midwest school, there is that concern that you may not know what you are getting into. Since fit is very important in these small schools, they would like to see you on their campus, in their neck of the woods and then saying, you like it there. If you don't do that, just some questons via e-mail or contaacting an alum is not going to cut it. Some schools feel strongly enough about it that they will help out if finances are an issue. I can tell you that Holy Cross which was on my son's list, out and out said that not only should an applicant visit, he should interview. IF you don't do so, you should bring up the matter, and discuss the situation with the adcom.

    Some highschools that carefully track admissions even track visits of candidates. That is useful in seeing trends of kids who do not visit not getting in despite stats that would indicate otherwise.

    Does that mean you 100% do not have a chance of getting into such a school if you don't visit? No. But it can affect your chances. One of my kids did get into such a school without a visit--he decided not to do so after apps were mailed. But his GC really pushed that visit, as he did not really have a good reason not to do so. If you have a fee waiver, are applying for aid and can show a clear reason for wanting a school, it may not affect your app result, particularly if you address why you are not visiting. But there is definitely good reason to visit if you don't have a clear reason not to do so.
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  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions 12571 replies759 threads Senior Member
    ^^appreciate the many insights in your post #74
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30460 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Paying3tuitions, (yeah, that'll be me next year), a few years ago, our second child did get into such schools (should visit types) without visiting. His GC really pushed for him to visit to the point that she said it was nearly essential for acceptance. But due to his schedule the time was not there because he did not want to give up time from other commitments. So he e-mailed and explained why he like the schools, and for names of local contacts that could see. One was a school not far (3 hours) from home, and he really should have made the time. Well, he did get in to them, but he also put a lot of time e-mailing and talking to the admissions office. As for "fit", it was pretty clear that it was there. The schools were not in areas that different from where we lived. He, in fact, mentioned how he liked a nearby school that was similar,but what it lacked in what he wanted that School X had. He also knew kids at one of the other schools. So he got in. And you are right, that it would not be a "shut out" from not visiting. But it CAN make a difference in certain schools. I guess what I am saying is that it's too strong to say,"You won't get in if you don't visit.", but when the admission director tells you, "visit, visit, visit" as your GC says the same, if you can, do. Especially if it is a top choice. IF it puts true burden, let them know of your interest.

    Though I agree with what that adcom said about the importance of seeing if the environment is even a fit if you are from a very different place, this visiting business has made this process unnerving and I can't help but feel that there is also the reason that it separates the more serious applicants because so many kids are applying to so many schools, and that senior visit gives the adcoms some sense of where the college is on the list since it can be ornerous to visit too many school in that time. They are also aware of those who are financially strapped to do this. And the counselor can add a word about that too. Interestingly enough, several schools did not want the kids to interview. Just visit. Though there are schools with recommended or required interviews as well (those will offer off site interviews as well). I bring the visit business up since it is such a big change from my college days when so few people visited unless the school was on their way for something or nearby.
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  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions 12571 replies759 threads Senior Member
    it would not be a "shut out" from not visiting. But it CAN make a difference in certain schools.
    it's too strong to say,"You won't get in if you don't visit.", but when the admission director tells you, "visit, visit, visit" as your GC says the same, if you can, do. Especially if it is a top choice. IF it puts true burden, let them know of your interest.

    I agree with all of that, and just pulled it out because it summarizes our dialogue so well (for those who can't slog through it all!)
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  • thumper1thumper1 78481 replies3537 threads Senior Member
    We actually did visit all of the colleges both kids applied to. In DS's case there were three visits (one early visit, one audition, and one post acceptance visit...day trips in all cases). DD visited 15 schools and DS visited 10 different schools. We did the visits over two years with each kid and combined them with our family vacations, and visits to relatives (except the day trips...we just went there for the day). So...we made one trip to the SE where we visited 7 colleges with DD (and vacationed with very good family friends), one trip to CA with DD (7 more schools and a visit with relatives), and one day trip with DD. DS...one trip to the DC area for 3 visits (and a visit with relatives), three day trips (3 schools), one drive to Pittsburgh (and a visit with relatives), and a trip to Texas (3 more schools and a vacation in Texas as well as a visit with relatives).
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  • historymomhistorymom 3302 replies165 threads Senior Member
    I don't know if this info is too late for the OP, but for any other parents who, like me and my H live in an area with a dearth of attractive colleges, you have to start early unless you have a big travel budget. We started summer 07 as it was the one before our DDs, Junior year.

    So here is my additional advice on affording college visits:

    * Do regional visits as others have suggested

    * Join a hotel family's "club" ie Hilton Honors. This is a good one because their family of hotels includes everything from the Hampton Inn and Suites where you can get a clean room and breakfast for under 100.00 in many cities, to super chi chi Hilton resorts. What this does for you is it allows you to build up points that you can redeem for free stays.

    * Plan to visit some after admissions results are in. We are looking at the CA and Pacific North West schools before applying but if either of our girls are admitted to the schools there considering in CO and TX, we will fly out to both states and probably make that one trip.

    I have twins so between the two of them we will probably visit 10 to 14 campuses total before all is said and done. We have already made trips to 4 schools within a day's drive and had one overnight.

    Enjoy! and plan some fun stuff along the way. We just got home from a trip to Cal Poly which we combined with a day in Disneyland. It was a blast, just me and my girls, laughing ourselves silly and enjoying our
    time together.
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  • operamomoperamom 134 replies36 threads Junior Member
    With DS, auditions required that we visit several places during the application process. We sent CDs to as many as we could to reduce the travel time. Upon acceptance, he visited every school to meet voice teachers and have trial lessons. He visited one school several times because it was relatively close and it emerged, after being unlikely, as his first choice. He is a junior there now.

    DD is not a music major, but she is committed to intense study with a private teacher during her undergraduate years. She has seen 4 of her schools and will see 2 more in December, but we are reserving the travel dollars for post acceptance time so she can interview teachers. I know students who visited before applications, went to auditions, and visited to take trial lessons after they were accepted. Three trips to each school. We can't do this.

    In distinct contrast, I applied to 5 schools total, was accepted with scholarships to 3 of them and attended my first choice, a LAC (2000 miles away from home) which I saw the first time when I arrived as a freshman. I loved the school I attended and I believe that I would have loved any of the others.
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