Parents, Students are Ready for Spring Visits to Colleges

The Examiner
March 14, 2008

By Leah Fabel

WASHINGTON – With Spring Break ’08 set to begin Monday around the region, college-bound high schoolers will be sorting through pamphlets and packing up mini-vans, preparing for the all-important college visits.

But as juniors begin the search and seniors bring it to a close, sometimes parents feel more stress than anyone.

“Number one tip: make sure the student has input into where you’re visiting,” said Steven Goodman, recent author of “College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family.” “Every year, dozens and dozens of students get to a college and refuse to get out of the car.”

Assuming students do emerge from the front seat, parents should allow breathing room, Goodman said. If there are two tour groups, send the student in one and the parents in another, or take a couple of hours apart so the student can explore campus alone.

“Go back twice if you have to,” said Kate Gannon, the University of Maryland’s associate director of undergraduate admissions. “You probably don’t want to apply to fifteen schools, but visit as many as you can.”

Goodman added acceptance-hungry seniors should expect a few wait lists this spring as schools worry about how many students will matriculate.

“But be patient. Just because you didn’t get in today doesn’t mean you won’t get in in July,” Goodman said, adding schools allow time to update files and make the case for acceptance.

And despite parents’ paralyzing fears of “Animal House” antics, campus overnights are still the ideal way to feel out student life and all that comes with it.

“College life is college life,” Goodman said. “If you’re not comfortable with it, consider looking elsewhere.”

By the end of the visit, he said, trust your intuition. Even if the campus is lovely and the course catalog reads like a novel, if something feels wrong, it probably is. But if your trusty intuition offers two acceptable choices, rely on your inner crystal ball.

“Look at who you think you’ll be in a few years, and anticipate which school will help you more based on who you are in the future.”

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