How do you afford all those college visits?

<p>Visited more schools than S eventually applied to. Visits were great to separate the firsthand impressions from the marketing gloss. Some academic programs seemed like perfect fits on paper, but were less so in actuality.</p>

<p>California schools were easy to fit in with various car trips. East coast not as easy.</p>

<p>As for affordability, we were traveling when JetBlue had those $99.00 flights. We clustered visits to get in as many as possible. Finding reasonably priced lodging was easy enough. </p>

<p>As for timing, S and H went in the middle of winter Jr. year at the end of his semester after finals to minimize impact on class work. Happened to be a huge snowstorm in NE and that was a fantastic experience for our California S.</p>

<p>At the beginning of the Sr. year, after additional research to finalize his list, he did a second trip to see a few new schools. In addition to sitting in on classes, he scheduled an on campus interview and overnight at one and made department appointments at others. It was a more in-depth trip as he had experienced quite a bit of growth from Jr-Sr year with his summer activities. </p>

<p>There was a new confidence that came from the process of finalizing his list—seemed to go from “I hope I’m selected” to “I’m selecting.” He understood he could maximize his visit experience and go beyond the info session/tour type visit to really search out departments and programs.</p>

<p>Later fall, as a result of one of his ECs he wanted to add a few schools to accommodate a growing interest in another major. He had long standing interests and ambitions that could be achieved in a couple of different ways. He wanted to make sure he had his bases covered. He felt like his final trip was all about selecting match schools, and this seemed essential in our minds. We cashed in frequent flyer miles, and S and I scheduled a trip around Veteran’s day to new schools with overnights, interviews and class visits. Plus, I hadn’t yet gone on his visits, and I wanted the bonding experience. Great fun.</p>

<p>Now with second S, a HS Jr, we are more concerned about the time and expense as the schools he is interested in so far are not easily clustered. He is in the research stage and attended one college fair so far. We’ll figure it out one way or another.</p>

<p>a) We started freshman year: Northwestern
b) Sophomore year: Georgetown/GW/American/Gettysburg
c) Junior year: the Boston to NYC death march, seven schools
d) Senior year: up and back to Stanford, two finalists on East Coast.</p>

<p>e) Affording it: with some pain but a necessary expense, imo. In the context of four years of college education, it wasn't that much and we combined all trips with some vacation time.</p>

<p>f) Missed no school, tripped during hs spring breaks when colleges were in session. Seeing colleges when not in session is of very limited utility.</p>

<p>g) Not visiting until accepted also misses a major point; visiting schools changed the shape of schools applied to and priorities within, e.g., universities down, LAC's up, womens colleges an acceptable option, based on experience and info not obtainable without visiting.</p>

<p>I agree with MHC...the trips were priceless.</p>

<p>Youdon'tsay, Welcome! It's hard to quantify the value of visiting and of course it is relative to your personal situation.</p>

<p>My son visited 14 and would have applied to 8 had he not been accepted to his ED choice. We made one intensive whirlwind tour the summer before senior year, mostly by road, but including a few airplane legs as well. It was pricy, yes, but it was also priceless, both personally and practically.</p>

<p>His pre-visit #1 fell off the list and his eventual ED choice was a spur of the moment addendum. Had we not been in the neighborhood and visited he never would have chosen this school for ED. After four wonderful years, I am so grateful that things turned out as they did.</p>

<p>If your son is considering ED then a visit is absolutely necessary. </p>

<p>If ED isn't in the cards, then I'd still strongly suggest that you figure out a way to expose him to different types of colleges -- large/small/medium, urban/suburban/rural etc. Once the "personality type" is established it's easier to select others in the same ambience.</p>

<p>I'd also second the advice to visit as many safeties as you can. These are a little harder to love and sometimes require a wider process of elimination. Actually walking around campus and talking to students and faculty can make a less-selective a lot more palatable.</p>

<p>Lastly, many colleges -- even the most selective -- will fund visits for low income students who fit their desired demographic. Write to the admissions office and inquire.</p>

<p>I wanted to pipe up with a different viewpoint, borne of necessity. Although I enjoyed making trips with my two older kids, it was impossible to do for our youngest S. A combination of factors, including dad's work, my health and work schedule, and the fact that youngest S figured out how to skip 11th grade, made the whole thing rushed. Nonetheless, with the tools available, including CC, websites, emails to people in departments, he got enough of a picture of each school on his list of 8 to know what to do when was accepted to 3, rejected by 5. The one he wanted most was in California, just amazed to get in, so we had no tickets set aside. Without the chance to buy tix in advance, the cost of going to "approve" his near-top choice would have been nearly $1K for us both to fly, stay in a motel, rent a car...for what? He was keen on the program, confirmed what was important to him by email and phone with key faculty, looked at the shiny pictures on the web. When he packed up in August, we joked he was going to meet his mail-order bride. Nobody there could believe he'd accepted it sight-unseen, but circumstances just made it so. Then, my H, he and I made it our 25th wedding anniversary to travel there, with advance notice on the tix we did great. That thousand really was a great value for all 3 of us (Freshman Orientation and our first foot on campus!) And he is exceptionally happy there as a freshman. I don't recommend this path for an oldest child, however. It just happened.</p>

<p>I don't think I could have managed to be comfortable with that for our eldest, because we were just learning about colleges then. Basically, we made every trip occur with one overnight in a budget motel, getting two double beds, using the bathroom as a dressing room for me. I spent LOTS of time on the 'net to find someplace reasonable within driving distance of the college. The admissions sites list places, and sometimes you have to go 5 or l0 miles away, but on a trip like this it's not crucial to sleep at the Olde Campus Inne if it's beyond budget. </p>

<p>Two places he visited himself by greyhound, staying overnight in the dorm (sponsored and hosted by the Admissions department), took the college tour, and we discussed it at home together. Once there was a friend driving that way, and he got a ride quite close to a school he was curious to explore. Once H had a business trip and since that motel room was paid for, S went along and took the other bed in the motel room.</p>

<p>I pulled all the usual economy tricks, driving with food made at home in a<br>
thermos box, figuring if I could microwave our dinners at the motel, we'd save a lot, and just sample campus food at lunchtime. We actually never flew anywhere, so it was all car travel. NOBODY is watching you (the mom) so you don't have to impress anyone, eat at a fancy restaurant, and all of that. Dress for comfort and walking!</p>

<p>The h.s. excuses the absences if it's to go visit a college, so just write a note (check policy). We watched the calendar carefully so if a paper or exam was on the horizon, he'd check with a teacher and even arrange to hand something in early. Sometimes they excused him from quizzies if his grades were already solid. All can be discussed, but only in advance of the trip, obviously!</p>

<p>We sometimes found good travel times on those 3-day weekends, like MLK or Veterans Day, when the colleges meet but the h.s. does not. Often they can just miss one day or a half-day, if it's Friday or Monday, so most of your driving time is on the weekend. Many schools have Saturday morning tours, which helps a lot.</p>

<p>It is certainly interesting to visit, but I wanted to add that it's also possible to attend a school that was never visited! For personal interviews, there are also alumni who interview in the regions, but I tend to prefer on-campus interview whenever feasible.</p>

<p>If finances are a consideration, you could limit the campus visits only to a specific region and only to the schools that accepted the student already.</p>


<p>Financial considerations do make these luxuries. The URM status and perhaps athletic status may open doors for your son though.</p>

<p>Riverrunner’s suggestion to research athletic recruiting is excellent. D1 schools offer paid official visits. Some D3 schools have athletic open houses where they might pay for a diversity recruit to visit as part of their diversity outreach program.</p>

<p>Also, try researching diversity recruitment or diversity weekends. In my CC reading, I’ve come across Amherst, Williams, Swarthmore as offering them early in the Fall. While it doesn’t apply to our family, S’s friend was recruited for diversity weekends based on his Hispanic ethnicity checked on PSATs. </p>

<p>Okay, so here is what I found on CC: <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>There are quite a few colleges that offer them. Happy searching.</p>

<p>we are gonna do more looking after acceptances come in
Of course applications have to go out first ;)</p>

<p>If it is too hard to afford a visit- ( too far away etc) , keep in mind how expensive that will be if they attend.</p>

<p>However- there isn't anything etched in stone that says they have to visit before freshman orientation.
Rumour has it, that 30 years ago, many students signed on the dotted line before they had even visited a web site !</p>

<p>We visited all of the locals or D went to a short summer program. We are centrally located (Texas) so everyplace is expensive to get to and inconvenient, but some places are ok. Like OK and AR. They are just not being considered.</p>

<p>Visited Columbia and NYU when we went up to NYC to pick D up from Europe trip (just before Jr yr). We turned it into the summer family vacation and we spent 5 days and 4 nights at a lovely hotel near Carnegie Hall. (Travel company booked us into a Hotel originally that was being torn down, they called to tell me two days before-they gave us two rooms in Le Parker Meridien for the same price as 1 in this lower level hotel for the 'inconvenience it caused us).</p>

<p>Visited Michigan and Michigan State through Debate camps in bet freshman and sophmore year, she is very familiar with their dorms after 6 weeks. My parents and brother live in Det suburbs so they picked up my little darling (she was 14) from the airport and transported her to the colleges and helped her move into the dorm. She has wanted to go to U Mich ever since.</p>

<p>Went out to Cal to visit Berkeley and Stanford (top schools - but what a contrast- loved Stanford and thought Berkeley wasn't worth the money - chem lecture had 700 students and 600 seats), I wanted to do the full burn and go to LA for CalTech and USC, but D was wiped from all the travel during spring break. We also visited with family while there. She subsequently didn't like eitherCalTech or USC on paper. CalTech - intense. USC, felt she couldn't afford enough Gucci.</p>

<p>Cornell is so difficult to get to, 9 hours flight each way plus wait at airports etc., that we will have to wait to visit if she is admitted. Their Red Carpet program doesn't mesh with her school schedule, and it is difficult to justify that length of a trip to visit a school, stay in a hotel, and visit classes for one day.Not to mention that the cheapest early airfair for each of us is bet $450-700. This would be the $3,000 day. No frequent flyer miles to this location!</p>

<p>She spent 2 lovely days with a student at WashU and did the full tour. Went to class and was interviewed. From our home it takes less time and costs about the same to fly to St. Louis than to go to Austin or Houston. Ironic, but Texas has miles and miles of miles and miles [Red Skelton]</p>

<p>Hasn't visited Tufts or Georgia Tech yet. Was interviewed by Tufts (45 min interview went for two hours - I drove with her to go shopping and ended up waiting at a different coffee shop a block away, those seats were really hard)</p>

<p>We are are not poor enough or rich enough...</p>

<p>From the Oberlin College admissions website:</p>

The Multicultural Visit Program is an all-expenses-paid campus visit program for students of color. To qualify, a student must be of color (African American, Asian/Pacific American, Latino/a, Native American) and interested in a liberal arts education.


<p>Emerald. Speaking from someone who entered college in 1973 . . . that was true. Most of us only applied to one or two schools. I was from Michigan. My counselor looked at my grades (lets not discuss those) and my SATs, even impressive today and I applied at U of M. Most of the kinda smart kids from my HS went to Michigan, we also had a couple who went to HYP and MIT. One of my classmates who went to Harvard was a Rhodes Scholar.</p>

<p>Those who got a low draft # matriculated to Viet Nam those who didn't go to college with high draft #s matriculated to the Ford or GM factory.</p>

<p>There are schools like Oberlin that will pay expenses for Multi cultural open houses or other programs. Also if you qualify for waiver of admissions fee or SAT fee waivers, you can ask for help in visiting costs. The schools that tend to do that are LACs that count the visit very heavily for admissions consideration. For the larger schools, it is not necessary to visit until you are accepted and are considering the school. </p>

<p>We started looking at nearby colleges at first. From those visits, we got an idea of what he wanted and did not want. We then visited a few schools that could be done in a day. As we honed in on what kind of schools we wanted, we came up with a list. For some visits he went with other kids who were visiting which cut the cost a lot. Also if he knew someone at a school, he stayed with that student. So I did not go to some of the visits. </p>

<p>Now that he has applied, we visited and interviewed only 5 schools which are the ones where this is important for admissions consideration. The state schools, we did not bother,because they don't care. He has looked at some of them earlier, but did not interview or go this year. When he has his acceptances, he will go to the school most heavily considered and spend a day shadowing a student taking courses that are like what he may be taking as a freshman there. Also most of his schools are nearby. We only have 3 schools that are any distance away, and one is a state school that we have not visited.</p>

<p>Visits are nice.</p>

<p>They are not absolutely necessary.</p>

<p>My son (the older kid) did not visit any colleges he was applying to until spring of senior year, long after the apps were in. He then decided to visit his top choice college; it happened to be in the same town as one of his safeties, so he decided to visit both. He had an airline voucher from when he had been bumped from a flight the previous summer, so he applied that to the cost of a round trip ticket and flew on his own to visit; arranging successive overnights at each. His reasoning was that he felt reasonably sure of admission to his top choice, and so that was the only one he really needed to see. </p>

<p>He was indeed admitted to the top choice college, but unfortunately they did not offer any financial aid. He then received a suprisingly generous financial aid offer from his 2nd choice college, on the east coast -- so he flew out east in April -- it was short notice, booked less than 2 weeks out, but I don't remember having to pay too much. In any case, he came home, said he had found the college acceptable, and that is where he went.</p>

<p>My daughter did visit more colleges, but she also visited on her own. She took two separate week-long trips to the east coast; the second one was with a free roundtrip airline ticket she had won in a contest the previous spring - I paid for the other trip. (If she hadn't had the free ticket, then there simply would have been one trip rather than 2 -- the 2nd trip was not really necessary, it was more to visit her bf than schools -- in fact it rained most of the time and she cancelled several planned visits anyway). </p>

<p>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. So if anything, I think parental presence at a visit can be counterproductive in terms of the overall decision making process. (I know I certainly will get flamed for this -- but especially for a kid contemplating a distant college, there's a lot of value to the dry run experience of doing it solo).</p>

<p>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. </p>

<p>Okay, so we laughed when D started counting how many times one person said "Ummm" during an info session (and decided to bail on the tour) and then there was the one college of "please don't even park the car" experience that should be obligatory for everyone to tell as a story years later.</p>

<p>I applied to...a lot.</p>

<p>I visited just over half, but only a few of those (the 3 I was considering applying early to) before I applied. A few others, such as my sister's college, one very near to my house, etc., I was familiar with but did not specifically go visit before applying. </p>

<p>I only did one overnight visit before applications, it was to one of the schools I was seriously considering applying early to.</p>

<p>Between applying and official acceptances, I did overnight programs at two schools where I was being considered for scholarships, but those visits were paid for by the schools themselves, not by me.</p>

<p>I only did overnight visits after acceptances to the three schools I was most seriously considering, and did a day visit to one other.</p>

<p>My mother's opinion was that I should apply to a lot of schools, and then visit the ones I was serious about attending after they accepted me, because it is cheaper to pay a $50-70 application fee than to visit that many schools when I might not even be accepted in the end.</p>

<p>ETA: Some of the schools are mentioned more than once above (example: both the school near my house and my sister's school eventually got overnight visits) - I didn't apply to like 30 places.</p>

<p>We are dealing with this too. D is audition at 5 different music schools. We are trying to get Eastman and Fredonia on the same weekend as then we can at least go from one to the other (Fri and Sat). Crane/Potsdam we are driving back and forth in one day (about 3 hours each way) bc they have no decent motels up there (I have issues w. mom and pop type motels). </p>

<p>The worst $$$ is the NYU audition. We are wanting to make the most of a trip to NYC and ofc, there are many decisions to be made as to how we want to go about this. Do we take the train down or drive? Stay in NYC or NJ? Lots of people have told us to skip staying in Manhattan and stay in Jersey, in that case we would drive down for sure but if we stay in Manhattan we will probably take the train at least for some portion of the trip.</p>

<p>Has anyone had any experience with Priceline for getting a hotel in Manhattan?</p>

<p>We've been embroiled in this process for the past 8 years with three kids spaced out so that we're never really "done" - it's always time to gear up for the next one. In that time, all vacation funds have gone to pay for either college visits or getting kids back and forth to school. It's been money well spent - despite the stress and aggravation of never quite knowing where we're going and being unable to manage our time so that we can have an actual sit-down meal somewhere. (On one memorable journey, d2 and I went 36 hours subsisting on Diet Coke, hotel-room coffee, gummi worms, and crackers.)</p>

<p>With our current senior, we've visited 8 schools over 3 trips (2 schools have been seen twice, to permit interviews). She eliminated 2 schools from her list after visiting, and there are 2 schools on her final list that she hasn't seen yet.</p>

<p>I think the question of affordability is a smart one, and I hope that admissions departments are aware that it is a concern for many parents, not just those below a middle-class income. Our travel funds are not, um, inexhaustible. It's fine for schools to look for expressed interest, but sometimes even a very low-cost trip is just not possible.</p>

<p>We made college visits part of our vacation planning. Because they wanted to avoid the flying at Thanksgiving scene, our kids preferred colleges within a day's drive from our Mid-Atlantic home (D ended up 5+ hours away) so it was not tough to do it that way. I enjoy visiting campuses the way some people enjoy malls, so it was fairly pain-free.</p>

<p>Now h.s. senior son is going through the process and he has visited all but two of the six schools to which he applied. If those two are in the final mix he will visit them during his spring break (which fortunately is not the colleges' spring break time), and I am hoping he does an overnight at any school he is considering saying "yes" to. </p>

<p>Wow, in the future we will be able to plan vacations without college locations factored in! :)</p>

<p>As far as athletic recruiting goes, it's important to remember the difference between official (they pay) and unofficial (you pay) visits. </p>

<p>One school that recruited my S wanted him to come for an unofficial (summer) visit. Several time zones away -- I thought maybe on their dime in September. They dropped out. Another school, this one in an <em>adjacent</em> time zone, offered an unofficial summer visit, and we did fly out to check it out. Yes, it cost about $1000 for the trip -- airfare, rental car, hotel, meals. I might have done it for a few hundred less, but I wanted S to really see the area. That school eventually did make an offer -- and it would have included some athletic scholarship dollars -- but at that point he had already committed to his first choice.</p>

<p>I should note that he committed in JULY to his first choice school and had a verbal acceptance in AUGUST before his final year. For his sport, at that level, it happens <em>that</em> early.</p>

<li><p>DD applied to 10 schools</p></li>
<li><p>Visited 8 prior to application</p></li>
<li><p>We visited about 15 schools starting when DD was a freshman. Not all were tour/info sessions, we may have been in the area for sports or vacation, just getting a feel for the school and spreading out the process (and the outlay of money). In the beginning I think it served as a weeding out or elimination process and helped all of us figure out what types of schools appealed to her. At that early stage we hadn't even asked her whether she wanted to be at a big school/small school, urban/rural, liberal arts/science technical. Without even talking about those things it became clear that she was looking for a broad education, not one directed to the sciences. It also allowed for return visits to schools she really liked. </p></li>

<p>Starting the summer after sophomore year, we bunched visits by location and that was our vacation for the summer - not the most relaxing, but memorable. We tried to be frugal, stayed in some sketchy hotels and still laugh about the accommodations. </p>

<p>Two tips given by prior posters are important - Make sure you visit and find a safety that you love. Find one they would be really happy to attend and you can afford. I sometimes think we spend too much time focused on the dream schools. </p>

<p>While we visited a lot of schools, DD didn't do any overnights until after she was accepted. By then it was late in her senior year and missing school wasn't as critical as it would have been earlier. We also didn't want her to become too attached to her dream schools or the kids who went there because she knew they were long shots. </p>

<p>Good luck, pack lots of cheap & healthy snacks, and enjoy the experience. </p>

<p>PS - One thing all the tours did for me is make me realize how many truly outstanding kids there are in this country. We hear all this talk about how we are falling behind in education, but when I looked around the campuses I realized that our kids are amazingly bright, organized, ambitious, and ready to take on the world.</p>

<p>If you are interested in a certain area of the country, some colleges band together to make multiple visits easier. Last summer some Virginia private colleges offered up to free applications for visiting at least three of the schools: Council</a> of Independent Colleges in Virginia [CICV] </p>

<p>Working with the school calendar was also key. Starting at the summer after sophmore year, we took every in-service day available when we could or days like Presidents day weekend or Martin Luther King Day when colleges were open and our kids public hs was closed. Granted, this is very difficult when kids are involved in a time-sucking ec, but that's all the more reason to start a bit early.</p>