The Biggest Problem With Planning a College Visit, And How You Can Fix It

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High school parents weigh in on the challenges of planning for college tours

After nearly two dozen high school parents contacted us with identical advice, well… we decided to write a post about it.

What’s the biggest problem you’ve encountered while planning a college visit? We asked.

The majority of mothers and fathers weighed in on a similar grievance: wasted time! Not time wasted in planning the actual trip, per se, but time wasted on the road.

“Looking back on our trip, we spent an unnecessary amount of time in the car. Our hotel was inconveniently located a bit too far from campus, and when it came to grabbing lunch, or dinner, we sort of just drove around while (my child) scanned yelp”

“The order in which we visited schools should’ve been reversed. Overall the trip turned out fine, but we could’ve saved maybe an hour if we’d have visited UVA first (vs. UNC)”

Logistically speaking, planning for campus visitations can be tricky, particularly if your goal is to visit multiple cities and campuses over the course of a singular trip. For this, we advise parents and their children to sit down together with GooogleMyMaps, which is an edit-friendly and shareable version of GoogleMaps, available on Chrome for Google. Create a personalized map and ensure that both you and your child have access, and editing capabilities. Begin by inputting your college prospect list, locating every school on the map and pinning it with a recognizable pin. We recommend color coding these pins in accordance to college priority: Green pins mean the school is a must-see, yellow pins are a maybe, and red pins mean that you could feasibly skip the school, or come back to it later. Once you have all your colleges and universities laid out on a map, you’ll have a far better view of how best to tackle your multi-campus road trip.

The next step will entail stacking these schools, in accordance to their geographic location, against your travel dates, non-negotiable commitments (like interviews or sports festivals), and campus tour times, dates, and availability. Create an excel document (again, we recommend GoogleSheets for family-sharing capability) with your dates in one column, and your commitments in the next. Once all your commitments are inputted, begin filling in the blanks. 

The first priority should be campus tours. For example, UVA might offer a morning tour on Tuesdays, but only an afternoon info session on Wednesday. If UVA is a priority school for you then you will want to make Tuesdays at UVA a firm commitment, then plan on visiting Wakeforest and the University of Richmond accordingly (you get the gist!). Once you have a commitment attached to the first date of your trip, then you can determine which city to fly into. Remember: sometimes it makes more sense to fly into one city and out of another. Keep an open mind and ensure that your plans work to minimize road-trip time and maximize time in college towns, and on campus.

A secondary grievance aired by our parents, also in the vein of wasted time, spurred from half-baked planning. That’s not to say that the effort wasn’t there, but between coordinating the above and dedicating 99% of focus to the most important factors, like booking tours and interviews, parents realized they’d given little thought to researching their destinations. Think of all the time you spend planning for a typical vacation: diving into restaurant recommendations, great recreation in the area, and even fine arts. When you’re coordinating a multi-campus road trip, and focusing on logistics, it becomes hard to flesh out the fun stuff. Parents recall wasting valuable time merely searching for a “good enough” place to grab dinner, or waiting on a table at a spot they wish they’d booked weeks in advance. We recommend beginning the planning process early, to allow ample time for these types of plans too.

If you’re stumped, or overwhelmed, you know we’re here to help! Feel free to reach out via the form on our homepage. We’re college visitation veterans, here to streamline the planning process and optimize your trip. Regardless of how you choose to travel, we wish you and your child the best of luck on the winding road to college. You got this!


Happy trails,

Parker, at #PMCV