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Must-Read Tips for Your Upcoming College Visits

School is finally out. Summer vacation has begun—even in New Jersey and New York where schools let out so late! That means it is time for college visits. Whether you have a rising high school senior, junior, or sophomore, this is a great time to visit colleges.

Some might say that it's quieter on campus during the summer; some might even argue to wait until the fall. But the fact is that most of us can't take a trip with our kids until the summertime and that makes RIGHT NOW the perfect time for college visits. 

I can always count on my Application Nation families to remind me to remind all of you of what's on the horizon! If you were to take a look at our private discussion board, you would see members posting summaries of their recent college visits, tips on where to stay whether you are visiting colleges in Colorado or Connecticut, and a full-on debate over whether certain schools truly track demonstrated interest when they say they don't but their common data set says the complete opposite (Villanova, we mean you!). 

READ MORE: The Secret Data That Admissions Offices Hope You Won't Find

Just a few weeks ago, one of our returning Application Nation moms, whose first child is going to be a college sophomore and second child is a rising high school senior, gave all of us a dose of reality and a lot of laughs when she posted a list of things all parents should do before embarking on the college visit tour.

Want insider college admissions advice from Sara Harberson and tips from a group of like-minded parents?
Join Application Nation, a suite of private Facebook groups hosted by Sara.

With her permission, here are a few highlights from this veteran mom (who is also a busy physician!) coupled with my own commentary: 

      1. First of all, pat yourself on the back for coming this far. Three years ago, I bet you didn't know what a Subject Test is and now you do!
      2. If you are falling asleep in information sessions like I was, start taking notes. It kept me awake. 
      3. Carry an extra pair of shoes along in case you are out longer than necessary on a tour.
      4. Cute shoes are not necessary.
      5. Comfortable clothes are a must.
      6. Be ready for "blister care." See #3 and #4. I spent a lot of money at CVS on the worst blisters of my life. I've walked four 3-day "cure walks" in my life and still didn't experience the same pain from these tour blisters.
      7. Bring heartburn meds. I spent more than I needed to in the hotel shop.
      8. Write notes down right away. Moms and dads, write them during the information session and then write your kid's impressions down as soon as they start talking to you. It is quite a moment when they share their feelings about a college.
      9. The term "holistic" is an overused word. 
      10. Check, check, and then recheck all travel info.
      11. Add in sightseeing excursions to balance the college visits.
      12. Dining is important. 
      13. Dining halls are important too. 
      14. People watch.
      15. Every college has lots of clubs. Don't worry if they don't have your child's club. All they need to do is get 10 signatures and a "constitution" of sorts to start one.
      16. When traveling with boys in the same hotel room, bring matches or air freshening spray. Nothing more to say here. If you have boys, you know.
      17. When you go in buildings on tours, stay close to the door in case you need fresh air. See #16.
      18. Stay in the same hotel chain to get traveler points. You will need them to take vacations after this "vacation."
      19. Visiting a college as a prospective student is different from visiting that same college as an admitted student. Colleges will care a lot more about you after you get admitted. 
      20. Daytripper University was pretty good for restaurants and accommodations. If not, ask Kate (member of our Application Nation group). She knows every travel tip for every college you want to visit. 
If you want more tips from me, this veteran mom, and Kate (our resident travel expert), check out my Application Nation private Facebook groups. If not, enjoy the visits. They will make you laugh, cry, and cherish these rare moments with your kids.