When to Start Visiting Colleges


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Q: My wife and I are both college graduates, and we definitely want our three children - ages 6, 8 and 15 - to go to college. When is the best time to take them on college visits?

A: Your 15-year-old should be visiting colleges now. And it is not too early for the other two children to get an idea of what college is like. College visits usually should begin at schools close to home. Your first visits should include fun activities, from college sporting events to special campus events, to hiking or camping in the area.

Your older child needs to have a checklist of things to see at each school, including a campus tour, visiting a class, checking out dining and dorm facilities, talking to students, and learning about the courses offered. After each visit, he or she should write down which aspects of a school appealed to him or her and which ones didn't.

The ideal time for college visits for high-schoolers is when school is in session, simply because it gives the best picture of college life. Nevertheless, summer vacation visits can be very helpful, because they give children an idea of what other things in the area around a college might make a particular school appealing, from mountains to the seashore, to big-city or rural life.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com or visit dearteacher.com.

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