Burnout on College Tour?

<p>We live in Southern California. S & I are planning spring break visits to Vanderbilt, Duke, several east coast schools, then to Northwestern on the way back. Friends have advised that a week of visiting colleges is the maximum a h.s. student can process/endure before burnout and confusion occurs. Does everyone agree? Is ten days too much, even with a break in the middle of the trip?</p>

<p>If he is interested and engaged in the process, I don't think you'll have any problem.</p>

<p>neurotic, I think it's not so much the length of time but the scheduling, so that visits are not too crowded and that the breaks are truly enjoyable. </p>

<p>Because we live overseas we did all our visiting in 3 week trip. We saw a total of 14 school in the Northeast and Midwest, but did a reasonable amount of sightseeing and visiting in the course of the trip. </p>

<p>We alloted one day to each school which to me was the key to mental health. We did the info session, the tour and wherever possible our son interviewed on campus. We devoted plenty of time to wandering around campus and spent the night at his "top picks". Not everyone has the luxury of that much time, but for our son it was very affective.</p>

<p>This is your son's future. If he's interested in schools like Vanderbilt and Duke then he's most likely smart enough to take ownership of the process. If you don't overschedule, he'll enjoy the visits and you'll enjoy the time with him.</p>

<p>also, make a pledge to have "no college talk" time- if you talk about it 24-7 youll go bonkers ,but if you take breaks from it...</p>

<p>so if you are touring a city or museum, don't give in to the urge to discuss a school</p>

<p>My D and I did 11 colleges in 5 days. It was fine. All we did was talk colleges for the whole time, which is fine for the way my daughter functions.</p>

<p>I think the key is understanding what is most important to you about a college. My daughter liked to read the bulletin boards outside wherever they sold coffee. If she didn't like what she saw there, we left. We didn't go to a lot of the admissions office information sessions, after she said "every single thing they're saying is available online."</p>

<p>But we did wander the campuses; we did talk to students; we eavesdropped whenever we could. We read the graffitti in the bathroom. We checked our email in the library. After each college, we got in the car and wrote a list of my daughter's likes and dislikes. That helped a lot when she got home and tried to keep them all straight.</p>

<p>I should add that this was my daughter's second tour. Her school had organized a college-visiting trip for all the juniors, during which they visited a variety of schools of different kinds. My D had figured out what size of campus she wanted, what kind of school (LAC, not big on frats, good library), and what kind of location (near a good-sized city or in a good-sized city) BEFORE our serious trip.</p>

<p>Everyone's different, but we felt that one per day was a max to avoid the blurring effect. Put in some fun stuff and enjoy the journey!</p>

<p>Take notes and pictures whatever schedule you have. We did four colleges over 5 or 6 days and they still kind of blurred in my head at the end of it all!</p>

<p>I think it depends on how a family approaches the process. Ten days (or seven, for that matter) of talking and thinking about colleges 24/7 and being harangued constantly by your parents volunteering their opinions and/or seeking yours, will burn out a lot of people. Exploring schools in a relatively laid-back fashion for ten days, with some time for other vacation-type things, seems less like a setup for burnout.</p>

<p>Before you do the scheduling, ask yourself and son what you hope to learn. If you plan to base decisions on the architecture, the quality of the tour guide, and some random remarks or observations then doing 2 tours/day should be no problem. You might even be able to do 3 if the colleges are close to each other. Even more efficient, you can do virtual tours and blog conservations.</p>

<p>If you want to develop some understanding of the college culture, the academics, and educational approach, you might gain some basic understanding after a day or so. Of course, you would also need to take the time to talk with faculty members and departments heads in addition to admissions representatives and students.</p>

<p>Digital photos and a notebook, for sure. Think of it as house hunting. Would you be able to remember all the nooks and crannies of 6 homes you looked at in a short period of time? After awhile one blurs to another, whatever it is.</p>

<p>We did the tour of the northeast over a high school break for Eastern week. We organized and scheduled ahead of time with the agreement that the schedule would be flexible. It was just D and me and we visited about 11 schools, although some were "drive-bys" that lasted about 15 minutes.</p>

<p>I really think it depends on your S/D. D was very motivated, so she was interested in checking out the different schools. She made the calls on which schools to visit, although we did talk about it beforehand.</p>

<p>We had a great time.</p>

<p>Campuses may begin to look alike after a few visits, so it may help to focus some of your attention on the surrounding community. I think this is especially important at colleges where most kids end up living off-campus eventually.</p>

<p>Duke is a wonderful school, for example, but perhaps it's worth it to take some time to look at Durham, which is not so wonderful, as well.</p>

<p>And people who have visited Northwestern have come back with the feeling that it was much more urban than they expected -- which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the student's preferences.</p>

<p>I don't know if it's all that important if the impressions of the colleges that your kid considers "acceptable" blur in his mind. It's more important that he remember which ones were the "I wouldn't be caught dead in this place if it were the last college on Earth" schools or communities.</p>

<p>My daughter's first college visit was Johns Hopkins. I don't think she remembers what the place looked like. But what she did remember is the feeling, from the appearance of the neighborhood, the attitudes of the tour guide, and the information presented at the information session, and the general emphasis on research above all other things (which does not coincide with her own interests), that this was definitely NOT the college for her. That was a valuable visit!</p>

<p>Everyone is so different. We saw two or three schools on a given day if was convenient. We travelled down the Hudson and saw every school D was interested on the way. She is restless and enjoyed this. She hadn't slept the night before (just the way it was -- motel from dropping her brother off at his summer music program) and by Sarah Lawrence she was so punchy she insisted she was going to go there just because she was giddy. "Mine, mine," she kept insisting. I think some of the tudor architecture did it. Considering that we saw the school at 8 o'clock in the gloaming and spoke to no one it was pretty funny.</p>

<p>We avoided NYC that night, and her top pick which is also so near the Hudson on B'way that you could see the river from her dorm room this year. Not too shabby.</p>

<p>We went back to some of the schools we blitzed, but our family really enjoys these in and out kind of things. Did the same with the three LAC's in Maine and outside Philly.</p>

<p>Just make sure you are scheduling days with nothing to do but vege out. Part of the discomfort of travel is the feeling you have to "be" somewhere everyday or it is a day wasted. Plan in some days to sit by the pool, with a book and relax.</p>

<p>The notes your son takes on each college will also be very helpful when the time comes to write the " Why ______ College?" short answer essay that so many schools require. Having some very detailed memories will allow him to write an answer that is genuine, warm and personal. When we toured with our daughters we would climb back into the car after each visit and they would take notes while we all chimed in with things we wanted to remember. We worked from a rudimentary list of things like dorms, food, etc. but also included a description of our tour guide and other observations that would help us remember the place. One other detail that made it fun was the infamous squirrel ranking. I recommend it highly.
Campus</a> Squirrel Listings</p>

<p>Sometimes things don't click till long after a visit. At least this is the case with my D. Last year we visited a top notch LAC within driving distance. D spent the day there as a guest of a prof teaching in her intended field of study. She took 2 classes and loved them...small classes, engaged student/prof interaction. Gorgeous campus, terrific housing...the place was perfect (to me) with a superb reputation in her field. But something wasn't right for her and she felt uncomfortable about it, even guilty.
Didn't know what it was till half a year later. She's discovered since then that she wants urban and busy, to be in the midst of culture, museums, cafes and the like. For her personality and tastes this LAC was just too remote and quiet, even though it's only a half hour drive to downtown.</p>

<p>Visiting colleges is so necessary for finding a fit. The "these are my people" feeling, surroundings, general atmosphere..a lot of aspects that can't be gleaned from brochures, and things that kids don't know whether they like or don't like till they experience them on site.
Best of luck with your visits...the advice above is all great, and hopefully your son will feel that immediate sense of belonging in several of your choices.</p>

<p>It so depends on your child. My son was one of those people who knew within an hour everything he wanted to know about a school and was ready to move on. I had arranged one school per day and we could have done two in cases when the schools were only an hour or two apart. I allowed for extra time to attend classes, have lunch at the school, etc., and he didn't want to do any of that. I forced him to have lunch and by the end of the week he was really getting upset with me. I took photos and I'm glad I did because I think it helps to keep the schools straight.</p>

<p>I know a lot of people who either cram it into spring break week or in summer (when the campuses are empty). Its very difficult to do anything else if your kid has varsity sports or other intensive ECs and with all the grade pressure, you don't want them missing class. My junior already has other plans for Feb and spring break, no free time at all in the fall, so we'll have to do the empty campus tour in August. It sounds like you are going to a lot of fun places; I'm sure the week will be exciting!</p>

<p>On our very first college tour week (seemed a long time ago but not really), we scheduled 2 nearby schools each day. This type of schedule did not work out at all for our S. By the third day, he was sound asleep in the information session. Thereafter, we visited only one college per day, and then had fun the rest of the day. This meant a lot more trips, but this worked well with our S. It truly depends on the child.</p>

<p>We also felt we got better at looking as we went along. The info sessions are very similar, so--though we went to all of them--we probably paid less attention as time went on. We were so tired on the first (NE colleges) trip, we could hardly wait to get to our hotel/motel and go to sleep. Our DS, who hadn't napped since he was 3, was falling asleep in the back seat. It did get easier.</p>