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Summer visits-where are you headed, any tips?


Replies to: Summer visits-where are you headed, any tips?

  • northwestynorthwesty 3586 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Two-a-days are totally fine if the schools are in the same geography. Especially for a first look and especially in the summer time. Taking two days to see Ga Tech/Emory or BC/Tufts would be a waste of time. Taking four days to see Haverford, Nova, St. Joes and Penn would be ridiculous.

    Once you get the schools narrowed down a bit, one-a-days while school is in session make more sense. When the students are around, the best thing to do is eat in the cafeteria and chat up your table mates.

    My kids always had to get out of the car and do some looking, but then it was totally OK to bail early if me or the kid was not feeling it. Feel free to ditch the info session if you're not feeling it. Feel free to just show up and tag along on a tour even if you could get an assigned spot through the website. We did this all the time without question. Feel free to dispense with the tour completely and just do a drive by/walkabout. If you do these things, you can cover a lot of schools and also not burn the kid out.

    Do your long driving between geographies in the late afternoon/evening. Don't leave yourself a meaningful drive or tight time schedule for morning appointments.

    Do some fun stuff as much as you can. Try to find the best pizza, BBQ, tacos, ice cream, etc. in whatever towns you are in. Do some fun tourist/locals stuff in the towns you are visiting -- concert, ballgame, whatever.

    Make sure the iphones are loaded up with music that both you and the kid can tolerate.
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  • ASKMotherASKMother 232 replies1 threads Junior Member
    We didn't travel for the summer but we did visit 10 schools in 6 days over Spring Break my D18's Jr year. It was a little tiring (mostly on me the driver) but not horrible at all - actually very fun M/D road trip! After each school I would try very hard not to comment and she would journal about her experience - anything unique that she noticed and then ranked specific aspects. I do agree with @twoinanddone though on 'we came all this way, you will look' and 'my opinion matters'; but neither were even brought up. D18 wanted to talk and was grateful to get to visit in person. That being said I only tried to point out the really glaring 'parent' red flags. We would talk about her thoughts after she wrote and I would basically give my pro/con/con/pro views trying to point out the good and the not so good (at least as I saw it) but ending on a positive. We also asked the guide at each school - what three things do you not like/would you change about your school?; what is your favorite school tradition or event; and tried to ask random people (the people working in the Dhall, the librarian, the girl at the front desk of the rec center, the staff at the bookstore) what they thought of the students - do they seem to get along, are they all friendly toward each other or do people sit alone; are they around on the weekends; do they pick up after themselves. Definitely have some questions to ask... they will remember you better! I agree with @northwesty that you can easily do 2/day. Our schedule was: Furman on a Sunday (not an official tour-friends of the family were in school there and gave us a student's 'real' tour); Wake Forest/Elon - Monday, UNC-Chapel/Duke- Tuesday, W&L/ UVA -Wednesday, Wm&Mary/URichmond -Thursday, Georgetown on Friday then headed toward home. We had already visited Vanderbilt, Rice, Birmingham-Southern, Alabama, Auburn and UAB. We had done our homework and knew the schools offered academics that interested my daughter. It was a great way for my D18 to narrow choices and think about what she really wanted in her next academic environment as well as encourage her to apply for scholarships - the nicer the school the more money she would need! I would agree that you should call head (or look on their website) for a tour ... admissions isn't in full swing like they are in the school year and sometimes tours are only offered 1-2 days a week. Part of me is glad to be done but I also already miss the idea of looking at schools (but mo fear S23 is coming up soon with a D25 to follow!) Good luck to all!
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9149 replies91 threads Senior Member
    I'm curious about those of you who say it's possible to do two tours in one day. That wasn't our experience at all. We were usually on campus prior to the start of a 10 am info session/tour that lasted until lunch,we ate in the dining hall, and then had engineering specific tours and meet and greets with profs, that lasted most of the afternoon. Generally speaking we were on campus from 9:30 until 4. Do the small LACs not do discipline specific tours/meetings?
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  • mom2andmom2and 3034 replies20 threads Senior Member
    While summer is not ideal, it is also not that easy to get a great view of campus life on Saturday morning tours. And, as others have said, it is not always easy to do 2 in one day, unless the schools are close together. We had to leave a tour early or miss the info session to try to get to 2 schools in one day. Doing a week of tours during junior year spring break can be challenging and the schools tend to run together. Since most schools don't offer a lot of Sunday events, it can be tough to see a lot of schools during junior year and fall of senior year. Summer visits can be unavoidable.

    All in all, go when you can. Target some different types of schools if your student doesn't have a specific preference: large, small, urban, suburban, rural. And don't expect too much. A rainy day can make a great school look drab, no kids in the cafeteria or student center may just mean they are all still asleep (on Saturday morning tours). Look beyond the school visit to all the other information when making a list.

    Try to enjoy and not get too stressed about the tours/info sessions.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 25944 replies257 threads Senior Member
    "Do the small LACs not do discipline specific tours/meetings?"

    Many schools with engineering do separate engineering tours but, no, schools generally don't do specific tours for other majors that I have seen. If one's not interested in engineering, no need for a special tour. But do most of those interested in engineering always take both the regular and special tour?

    In our case, we had interest in seeing dance, art, music facilities depending on the kid and if those weren't on the official tour, it was easy to swing by and pop in. It didn't necessitate a full day on campus, especially for a first visit. One kid also met with many coaches and we still had time for that as well most times and often interviews as well if they were offered in lieu of info sessions.

    Given a desire to visit many schools on limited vacation time from school/work and wanting to maximize the $$ being spent as well, we found it very easy to visit 2 schools many days. Schedule the first tour/info session of the day at one school and the last one at another:

    Amherst/Williams/Smith/Mount Holyoke

    Haverford/Swat/Bryn Mawr


    Carleton/St. Olaf/Macalaster

    Conn College/Wesleyan


    Dickinson/Franklin and Marshall

    ...to name a few examples. Pretty easy IMO. We were on a mission and did have the schedules mapped out with military precision :) but still had fun. Great dinner most nights with the occasional night of takeout and a movie in the hotel room. Great tunes and conversations while driving. Good memories.

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  • amom2girlsamom2girls 486 replies8 threads Member
    2 tours a day would not have worked for us, but my daughter was researching schools with specific BFA programs in dance. For each general tour she also emailed the dance department with a request to meet with the head of the department, receive a tour of the facilities and either participate in or watch a dance class. That coupled with the general school tour meant a pretty full day. My guess would be that anyone looking at specific programs might need more time on a campus. My daughter wanted that information before she went through the application/audition process and we accomplished that for all but 2 programs.
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  • threebeansthreebeans 768 replies37 threads Member
    We are shopping merit money so we are only touring publics with reciprocity within a 4 hour radius of Wisconsin over the summer and once she gets accepted with enough merit we will tour futher out. That worked for DS and he ended up 1200 miles away! Hope DD stays a little closer.
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  • cinn124cinn124 69 replies2 threads Junior Member
    In approximately one month we'll be visiting UMich, NC State, FIU & UTampa in that order. After the Tampa visit we'll stay in Florida for another 4 days to wind down and relax.
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  • SDCounty3MomSDCounty3Mom 207 replies1 threads Junior Member
    The schools D19 has visited so far have all proven to be plenty to experience in one day and I don't think we could realistically hit more than one campus in a day. She's looking at schools on the smaller side, all of which have some sort of information session with an AO and also a tour. This summer we are flying to the midwest from California, visiting family for a day, and then seeing four schools in six days. We have to cover a fair amount of ground between each school. But each has at least two things to attend, and she's got interviews at three campuses. Macalester College has five items on her schedule, including the standard tour, info session, and interview, but also a student panel and lunch with a student. I was surprised how extensive that was for a July visit, but I'm glad because there's so much more room to work with in the summer months when it comes to finding time for all this.

    I have found thus far that D19 really can't formulate much of an opinion about a school based on anything other than actually visiting the campus. She has told me that the brochures in the mail all seem the same to her, and for whatever reason she hasn't had much interest in the Fiske Guide. But as soon as she visits a campus she's suddenly got much more clarity. We've visited almost every school in our large home state that she would have an interest in, so now she's going to try on the experience of having to get on a plane to go to school.

    A friend works for a large tech company that is currently working with some university clients to design software that will help them improve their yield. These schools want to be able to identify factors that will predict students' choices. But the anecdotal reports they receive from students often cite really subjective and silly reasons for choosing or not choosing a campus. One student didn't like a particular headline she noticed in the student newspaper. Another was favorably swayed by the availability of bendy straws in the dining areas. Point being...I think it's important to try to help kids form impressions based on multiple factors. Multiple visits, doing various things on the campus when you do visit, etc. Of course this is more feasible in some cases than in others...

    We took an app-based self-guided tour of one campus and that wasn't a hit with D19 at all. I think the "ghost" experience, without official contact with the admissions office, is the least ideal approach.

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  • Musicmom2015Musicmom2015 367 replies23 threads Member
    When we toured schools with my DS15 we stuck with one school per day - summer or during the school year. We did a morning info session and tour and then spent the afternoon visiting with the music people, taking a major specific tour, having a sample music lesson, or just wandering around and people watching. As we got “better” at touring we reached out to friends of friends who might know a student at the school. Then we could get a student to really talk to us and show us around to areas not on the tour. I didn’t want to drive or fly some distance and then feel rushed. We plan to follow this again as we start touring with our DD19. We will see Tulane this summer. We may do one of the dc area schools so we won’t be as rushed in the dc / Virginia area next year. I know lots of people manage two a day but it wouldn’t have worked for us. Any tips for Tulane in the summer appreciated!
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  • DCNatFanDCNatFan 571 replies33 threads Member
    We have managed to do two tours in a single day. Last week we were able to tour High Point and Elon on the same day. It does make for a very long day but we were limited on time and were not sure we would make it back any time soon.
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  • PostmodernPostmodern 1160 replies91 threads Senior Member
    While I never like to disagree with @doschicos , I recommend you go to the Dinosaur BBQ in Troy when visiting RPI and instead visit The Varsity on the SU campus, especially if you are not getting a tour. The Varsity is fun and a good view into the "Let's Go Orange!" culture, for better or worse.

    This way you'll only have to park once in Syracuse, and the Troy Dinosaur is right next to a Best Western if you stay in Troy.

    (but don't stay in Troy! lol)
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Forum Champion Williams College 2238 replies104 threads Forum Champion
    edited June 2018
    We usually visited only one college per day, and we usually avoided info sessions (we really hated those) and only took the tour and then ate lunch in the student cafeteria and wandered around briefly. These are the only examples of when we did two colleges in a day:

    Colgate info session and tour a.m.(before we gave up on the concept of info sessions!), Hamilton tour p.m., sleep at bed and breakfast near Hamilton College, Hamilton interview the next a.m.

    Arrive p.m. and wander around Franklin and Marshall and eat in cafeteria, Franklin and Marshall interview and tour the next a.m., then Princeton tour in p.m. and depart right after the tour.

    Arrive p.m. and wander around Bates, Bates interview and formal tour a.m., Bowdoin interview and tour p.m. (Son said Bowdoin portion felt short vs. Bates portion where he had more time to wander around.)

    If I had had a child interested in Mt Hoyoke or Smith or Hampshire or UMass Amherst and not just in Amherst College, or a child interested in both Haverford and Bryn Mawr, those extremely close colleges might have made sense to visit on the same day.

    Same day visits need to be of colleges that are fairly closely located to one another not to feel rushed.
    edited June 2018
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  • hiislandmomhiislandmom 44 replies0 threads Junior Member
    We did two car trips with our daughter. Trip one, first day- Depart NYC 6:30am - Wesleyan 9am, Holyoke noon, Smith 3pm. Over night in North Hampton. Second Day Williams 9am, Skidmore 2pm. Over night in Saratoga Springs. Third day - Bard 10am, Vassar 1pm. Back to the city by 5pm. Second trip- depart from EWR 4pm overnight in Easton Lafayette 9am, Lehigh 2pm- drive half way to next stop and overnight in Binghamton. Drive to Colgate the following morning. Colgate 9am . Hamilton 2pm. Overnight in Clinton to get a better feel for Hamilton. She ended up taking a third trip and flew to PHL for a quick look at Haverford, a school we could have fit in on the second trip. She fell in love with it, applied early decision and is junior there now. She realized that all of the other schools we had visited were too remote. Haverford had so many things going for it. Part of consortium with Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore and with a train station right across the street- easy access to Philly and NYC.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 24075 replies19 threads Senior Member
    I suggest having an escape plan too! Very early in our college touring, we went to a very small school, in the middle of nowhere, and we all knew immediately that this wasn't going to work. Unfortunately, we had a meeting with the coach set for later on the schedule. We went on a tour, met with admissions, more down time, coach was with another recruit, then our turn. Took forever! We learned not to set things up that way again.
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  • ASKMotherASKMother 232 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I think one important thing is to do our homework BEFORE you head out. We didn't visit any school that I hadn't already vetted to see if it met academic qualifications my daughter was looking for as well as opportunities for her major/career plans. We also went back to just a few select schools to interview rather than doing that on the initial tour.
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  • northwestynorthwesty 3586 replies9 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    "I'm curious about those of you who say it's possible to do two tours in one day. That wasn't our experience at all. We were usually on campus prior to the start of a 10 am info session/tour that lasted until lunch,we ate in the dining hall, and then had engineering specific tours and meet and greets with profs, that lasted most of the afternoon. Generally speaking we were on campus from 9:30 until 4"

    So how many schools did you visit this way?

    There's a lot of different ways to do visits and how you do it depends on the particular circumstances/kid, how big/small the school list is, where you are in the process, and how much time and money you have to devote to visits.

    Some folks will tell you it is a complete waste to visit a school until after you know you've been accepted. Others tell you it is a complete waste to apply to a school if you haven't visited first.

    We opted to visit more schools more quickly/superficially on the very front end -- to figure out where to apply. So at the earlier stages and also for summer visits, we always did 2 schools in a day if they were close enough to make that possible. Villanova/Haverford. Swarthmore/Penn. Northwestern/Chicago. BC/Tufts (actually a 3-a-day since we squeezed in an informal walk about at Harvard).

    We only did a couple of deep dive visits (sitting in on classes, meeting professors, sleep over in dorm, etc.), and those were only after the kid was an accepted student. To figure out where to attend.
    edited June 2018
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  • ASKMotherASKMother 232 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited June 2018
    @northwesty that was our theory too... see more up front so you don't waste time and money applying to schools that aren't a fit; go back to interview/spend the day at the ones you are really interested in to 'show interest'. On that note if you wait for your acceptances, especially the very end of March RD decisions, you are going to have a VERY busy April trying to visit and compare before May 1st. I recommend applying to EA decisions if available for your school choices. I can see if you are very arts specific - theater, dance, music/concert - that you would want to make certain you are a fit with their program and professors/instructors; or if you are an athlete to meet with a coach and understand their workouts and practice vs academic schedules. But my daughter sat in on 2 different psych classes at two different schools and 2 different English classes at 2 different schools and they were basically the same as far as lecture/discussion mix. I don't think a decision should/could be made based on a one hour lecture.
    edited June 2018
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