top of page

Falling in Love on A Campus Tour

Looking for Lisa's 20 Q's Your Teen Should Ask on Campus Visits? Click here to download.

I fondly recall my first college tour as a high school junior.

My mom and I flew up to Washington to visit what I thought was my No. 1 choice at the time, The University of Washington. I left Seattle in tears, feeling overwhelmed by the simple walk across the vast campus.

Thankfully, we included Oregon on this visit. I fell in love with Oregon State and the small town of Corvallis; the students were so friendly and down to earth, not to mention the boy I was dating at the time lived about 30 minutes from there.

Washington State was also a pleasant surprise, but one student’s story about the black ice in winter entirely freaked me out. I pictured my Datsun 280ZX doing doughnuts on the highway, and that was it for me. It also rained for five days straight as we traveled from Seattle to Pullman to Portland to Eugene—and I mean RAINED.

I returned from that trip and decided I preferred snow to rain and wanted a college-town feel in a rural or suburban location. I honestly remember telling my sister that my hair didn’t look great in the rain, and my precious locks would fare much better in snow. I’m sure there was more to that conversation, but I recall it having a strong influence on my decision.

My Pacific NW tour left me dreaming of the one place I knew best: The University of Colorado at Boulder. My brother was a sophomore there and there was a sense of comfort knowing I would be looked after (of course there are far more stories there!).

Looking back, these college visits forced me to have a better sense of what I wanted in a college. I didn’t go through the college list building or application process feeling confused like some of my peers whose parents decided to hold off on visits until they actually had their college acceptances in hand. And, the minute I received my college acceptance to CU Boulder, I knew where I belonged. I didn’t have to trek across the country that April and make a rash decision about my final selection.

Parents: don’t make this mistake.

You want your teen to head into his or her senior year with some familiar options in mind and a crystal-clear picture of what he wants in a college, where he will feel comfortable, happy, and find success. Don’t go visiting a slew of reaches either. It’s masochistic to visit only colleges where your teen has a sliver of a chance—do you really want them to fall head over heels in love with a place that is truly such a long shot? And college visits over the summer mean you and your teen will be evaluating campuses solely based on the buildings and trained marketers, also known as tour guides.

There’s tremendous value in visiting colleges long it comes time to apply. Many private universities evaluate a student’s demonstrated interest. A college visit is a sure way to prove that. Often these same colleges will ask students on applications to “declare their love,” for their schools. It’s easier to write an authentic response when you’ve actually researched schools first hand.

There’s a lot more to the campus visit than a backwards-walking tour guide and professional script reading admissions officer.

Join me Sunday, March 31st at 6pm PDT for The Hidden Campus Visit, Live at The College Conversation on Facebook.

And if you miss it, catch the replay there another time.

If you're not a member of Straight Admissions Talk, my private Facebook group, you're missing out.

Looking for Lisa's 20 Q's Your Teen Should Ask on Campus Visits? Click here to download.


bottom of page