How many college visits are too many during spring break?

<p>I don't want to overwhelm my daughter, but spring break is such a great time to look at schools. She is a junior and has only seen two schools so far. We have a lot of potential schools within a 4 hour driving radius.</p>

<p>Toledo - we're planning to look at 4 schools - 5 if we can somehow fit the 5th one in, but I'm not sure how we'll manage that in 2 days.</p>

<p>We took a bit less than a week to see 7 schools last summer. We did allow 2 days for travel and I think 5 days for 7 schools. We visited one or two per day (twice we did visit 2 in one day). When we visited 2 in one day it was a bit stressful and those schools were rather close together. One day we did leave school #1 early to make our visit to school #2 on time! That day we had a very tight schedule and my son figured out that he was not interested in #1 so we left earlier than anticipated. Frankly, if we had stayed for lunch then we would not have been on time for the 2nd school (one that is currently on my son's list). It was much better to dedicate a day to each school. Also, none of us would be able to remember everything without pictures. We took pictures of the various buildings, fields, etc. to jog our memories! I highly suggest snapping pictures, or filming your visits. I also suggest having parents and students write down immediate reactions after the visit (before moving to the next school). You might want to just write impressions, with a like and dislike list. By the time we got home this was very helpful!</p>

<p>My S2 is going on a bus tour of Southern California colleges sponsored by the YMCA (we're in Northern California). They appear to be planning on eight (8!) colleges in 5 days. Plus a side trip to Magic Mountain. How they're going to manage this is a mystery to me. There's a parent meeting next week that will certainly be illuminating.</p>

<p>My son's high school hands out a package for juniors that includes a grid to note college visits. Down the left hand side is the list of colleges, and across the top are about 10 criteria - school size, academic reputation, friendly environment, cost, housing availibility, presitige, location, etc. The kids can give each college/criterion a score from 1-10, multiply by the relative importance of each criterion, and get a final evaluation total for each college. I'm going to encourage S2 to at least do this, and to have another kid on the tour take a picture of him on each campus, otherwise I don't know how he's going to remember where he's been.</p>

<p>I took a more targeted approach to colleges for S1, but I think as crazy as this trip sounds, it's going to be a good start for S2. He doesn't have the same interests as S1 and so it's right for him to cast a wide net.</p>

<p>The colleges visited will be UCLA, UCSD, UCSB, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, San Diego State, Cal Poly SLO, and Pepperdine.</p>

<p>vballmom, that sounds like a great trip! I did something like this (less schools) through the Y when I was in hs too. Glad to see that they still offer these trips. I assume that nobody will interview, so right there time is saved. Also, are some schools going to be "drive thrus" or just a stop for lunch? Do students pick and choose which to see and rather than visiting all of them? Perhaps they will only tour and not attend info sessions at all of the schools. Some schools do not even have an "info session".</p>

<p>Wow! You are all so ambitious! I was worried about 5 colleges in 5 days, but that's peanuts, compared to all of you.</p>

<p>I would highly recommend going to only one school a day, but it depends on your daughter's temperament and energy level. Mine would start out all enthusiastic, but found the whole process pretty mentally exhausting. Usually, we would have a tour in the morning with an info session or interview, eat lunch on campus, then wander around to various departments and talk to whoever was around. It was actually good to have unscheduled time to just 'hang out' and watch the goings on. In the evenings, we had dinner, talked about the schools (if D wasn't sick to death of the topic by then), watched motel TV and went to bed. Occasionally, if there was an area with multiple schools, we would just go and look around, drop into the admissions office and pick up material, etc. I think quality of experience is more important that quantity here, otherwise your daughter might burn out pretty quickly, if she's anything like mine.</p>

<p>This is probably one of the last times you'll have such an extended time with your daughter (road trip!), so might as well make it fun for both of you, instead of a marathon (although that is some people's idea of fun! not this couch potato.)</p>

<p>I remember back in the days when my children were looking, we would run into these families from California who were trying to see 12 northeastern colleges (or more) in seven days (or less). Sometimes we saw them on successive days, but they had visited two more schools since we saw them last. By mid-week, they looked like zombies. </p>

<p>You have to make choices.</p>

<p>That said, 5 colleges in 5 days works, but I wouldn't try to do more. They all start to run together, and it's hard to stay interested. My daughter and I did 5 colleges in 4 days, once, but (a) we saw 3 colleges in 2 days that were literally minutes apart, walking, and she had been to one of them before, and (b) even then, she zoned out for #4, and we had to cut short the visit and do something not-college-visity so she could refocus for #5. My son's most successful trip was 5 colleges in 7 days -- and he still zoned out for the last one (which, I admit, was my choice to visit, not his).</p>

<p>After visiting only one college (a first choice at the time) on junior spring break, I took geek_son on a summer road trip -- scheduled 6-7 colleges in as many days. Kept it flexible as his overload tolerance dictated (e.g., he got sick on the 5am flight from LA to SFO for a Stanford visit, so I called Stanford to cancel, let him doze in the airport for a couple hours, then took him on a mini-tour of downtown Frisco until our return flight).</p>

<p>I scheduled no more than two colleges in a day, and on that day we missed one of the interviews. He found his dream college on that day and spent the whole day there -- first the tour, then a lunch invitation from the tour guide, then the interview. We spent the last part of that day prowling the area, then returned for a show the following evening.</p>

<p>The next day, we made a second visit to what had been his first-choice college. He had a similar experience (lunch with a friendly tour guide, lots of off-the-record discussion) and decided that would be a better place for him to go to grad school. He applied to the summer dream college, not to the spring break college. He'll be attending the summer dream college next year. He's happy (as am I!) that he already knows some students and knows a few things about the surrounding area and feels very comfortable there.</p>

<p>I guess what I'm saying is, I think it's good to make sure your kid sees a variety of places, but keep your plans flexible and know when you should disappear until texted (as I did when he got invited to lunch). Those spur-of-the-moment invitations and conversations can give the student a better feel for the place than tours, interviews, and glossyware. But they won't happen if you're dashing from place to place on a tight schedule.</p>

<p>Interestingly, my son had no interest in the many down-time pursuits I'd suggested when planning the trip (beach, theme parks, et cetera). The college trip was strictly business as far as he was concerned. In retrospect, that was a good choice -- neither of us had much energy left for playing around after hiking all over campuses and eating restaurant food every day.</p>

<p>Oh. And buy the t-shirts if you want, but don't wear College X's shirt on your visit to College Y. ;)</p>

<p>We're doing 5 or 6 in 4 days, more than I'd like but with D's busy schedule it's really the only time we have. The first one will be quick, just the basic tour - she doesn't want to go there but it's the state flagship so I'm requiring her to look. Then we'll have the afternoon at another school she's a little more interested in. The entire second day will be devoted to a school she's really interested in. The next day split between 2 schools she doesn't really know about but that I think would be good fits for her. Final day would be a morning visit to her brother's school - which she's really familiar with - and one more on the way home.</p>

<p>I hope I can be flexible enough that we can spend more time at a particular school if she really likes it. Frankly, we can skip her brother's school except to say hi to him (and maybe eat lunch), she already knows more than a tour can tell her.</p>

<p>I figured out a "loop" of driving that puts each school within 2 hours of the next, and gets us all the way out to the one that's 5 hours from our house. </p>

<p>I wouldn't really recommend trying to do this much this fast, but D has other obligations that prevent the trip from being any longer. If she really likes a school and we don't have much time there, we can always go back.</p>

<p>You can do two colleges in one day if they are less than an hour apart, but I wouldn't do more than four two days running. Your kid deserves a break! One a day is pretty doable, again it depends a bit on how much your kid enjoys the process. My older son saw three over the course of five days. (Berkeley, Stanford, Caltech - we should have dragged him to see Harvey Mudd too, but it wasn't on my radar yet.) Younger son we are spreading out visits. Did two in one day over February break and I have two in one day scheduled for Spring break, though we might add one or two depending on how my schedule works out.</p>

I assume that nobody will interview, so right there time is saved. Also, are some schools going to be "drive thrus" or just a stop for lunch? Do students pick and choose which to see and rather than visiting all of them? Perhaps they will only tour and not attend info sessions at all of the schools.


<p>I'm pretty sure that all the kids will go to all the schools, but I won't have details until next week.</p>

<p>I consider this trip a phenomenal bargain - it's probably 1/5th the cost of flying/driving S2 to Southern California. Plus it has the advantage of no embarrassing mom moments (from S2's perspective, anyway ;) ).</p>

<p>I'll be taking S2 to see a couple of other colleges nearby, but am going to spread them out over the rest of the summer/fall, and do at most one per day. I mainly want him to come away from this mega-trip with a sense of whether a large college campus intimidates or invigorates him. Based on the answer to that question, we'll go from there.</p>

<p>Just back ... seven colleges, three days. Actually, it was six schools in Pennsylvania Wednesday and Thursday, home overnight, and one college in Massachusetts plus an outlet shopping trip today!</p>

<p>Lots of schools, lots to think about, but son has said driving distance and northeast to mid Atlantic only. Once we have things sorted a little more, we can always go back!</p>

<p>We just did 4 in a week, but could've done 5 or 6 if one school hadn't been so darn far away from the rest. Last year at this time, we did 4 in a 4-day weekend, but that was rushed and didn't allow for any overnight stays on campus.</p>

<p>A couple thoughts. First, I agree with other posters that I would recommend being flexible as the week progresses and adjust the trip as it unfolds. Last spring my daughter and I did a swing through the Northeast (Mass through DC) during spring break and depending on how you count we saw up to 19 schools. We planned on taking 10 tours (two a day) and ended up going on 9 of the tours. Then in many cases while we were in the neighborhood we did drive-bys or drive-throughs of additional campuses. Here are a couple sample days.</p>

<p>The first day we toured Amherst in the morning and UMass in the afternoon (we arrived the night before and stayed over) ... then on the way out of town since they were so close we drove through the campuses of Smith and Mount Holyoke.</p>

<p>The second day we toured Yale in the morning and then had a plan on touring Wesleyan in the afternoon but when we got to the campus we ended up doing a drive-through and drove down to NYC (the destination for the next day) and did a self-tour of NYU (which was not on our orginal plan).</p>

<p>The whole week unfolded in a similar fashion ... as my daughter saw more schools we adjusted what we we planned for the next day. Touring in the NE is particuraly easy because a ton of schools are so near each other ... the only really long trek we had was the trip home to Boston from DC.</p>

<p>My daughter and I had a great week together and it definately helped her shape her list.</p>

<p>We're doing five colleges over D's spring break, but only one per day. I wish that her HS had more days off, like on a Friday or a Monday, so we scatter the trips over a couple of three day weekends. But this year, it's coming down to mainly spring break, and our goal was to visit a school while it's in session, rather than during the summer, if at all possible.</p>

<p>We never did more than one school per day: tour, info session, and usually S attended a class. I did two in one day with visiting relatives, but it was during the summer and did not involve going to classes. Definitely not as valuable.</p>

<p>For spring break 2008 my D and I did a 9 day trip visiting about 10 schools in the northeast. We had a fun time and a very memorable trip. We had a flexible itinerary and ended up extending the trip at some places that she liked to spend more time there. Other schools she decided she didn't like within an hour or so of our arrival. We went on a shorter trip at the end of May visiting schools in Chicago and Pittsburgh. </p>

<p>Now that decisions are starting to come back we are finding that she is being accepted to the schools we didn't visit and she is being rejected from the schools where we spent the most time. So far she has been accepted at five schools and we only visited one of them before she applied. </p>

<p>I guess my conclusion would be to treat these visits as mainly a vacation trip and bonding experience with your child. In our case at least they haven't had much bearing on the admissions process.</p>

<p>One day per college if you won't be able to visit again.</p>

<p>Half a day if you are just trying to get a feel for campus and can return if it seems interesting.</p>

<p>And I totally agree with Consolation- urge your kid to attend a class. Made all the difference for my D.</p>

Now that decisions are starting to come back we are finding that she is being accepted to the schools we didn't visit and she is being rejected from the schools where we spent the most time. So far she has been accepted at five schools and we only visited one of them before she applied.

We had the same experience, but I still think it was somewhat helpful to have seen a variety of schools to know what was out there. </p>

<p>I always wonder about visiting a class - I had some great classes, some stinkers and some that were great, but I'm not sure you would have known it if you just popped in once in the middle. You could easily reject a place for one lousy professor.</p>