Trying to Decide How Many Colleges to Visit? Let Your College Map Be Your Guide.

You may be thinking to yourself, "I'm all set. I've got these great schools marked on my college map and all my routes to get there planned out." But you might be in for a highly-scheduled, tight-on-time road trip that will prevent you from getting the most out of your search for a school. 

Below, we offer some advice for planning college visits to help you along the way. Don't forget to check out our sample itineraries for college trips to see this advice in action!

Go See Campus and the College Map

Why would we tell you not to plan for every minute? Well, most admissions representatives and college advisors agree that a trip to visit campus needs to be balanced.

Sure, you want to see schools that are top targets, and you want to participate in every activity that will give you a good feel for the universities. However, your time on campus is only spent well if you have a quality experience, and the quality of your experience will be reduced if you over-plan.

The College Map Can Show You Your Downtime

If you over-plan, you will also miss out on some of the valuable downtime you can get from a trip to see these universities.

When you are planning college visits, take a look at the routes you have laid out on your college map. Whether by car or plane, this travel time gives students (and parents, if they are traveling together) the opportunity to review the visits they have just completed. It also lets them get ready for the ones they have ahead.

Downtime is very important if the student is seeing many campuses in a short period. It allows him/her to separate feelings about each school. If the student is participating in many activities during each college visit, he or she will have a tremendous amount of information to process. Without any downtime between trips, fatigue may set in, and the student may lose perspective on what he/she thinks about the schools.

Besides, stops along the way provide parents and students with the opportunity to discuss the college application process and other life issues. Having late night dinners on the road gives them the chance to talk in a way they may not to get during their busy everyday lives. It's one of the best parts of choosing a college.

The College Map Can't Show You All the Snags

Delays, especially when it is really important that you be on time, can produce massive stress. So it is best to expect these hold-ups when planning college visits. Here are a few you are likely to face:

  • Spending time in line at the airport.
  • Running into heavy traffic.
  • Taking a wrong turn on the way to campus.
  • Waiting for a meeting with admissions staff.
  • Walking from one end of a large campus to the other.
  • Trying to find the right buildings for on-campus meetings.

The college map will not show you where these delays will pop-up, and it will not be able to warn you that you have scheduled six campus activities when, in reality, you will only be able to complete three.

How Many Schools Should Be on Your College Map?

The best way to plan? Prioritize certain campuses and activities, but keep a list of optional schools and activities in case time permits. That way, if you end up avoiding delays, you will be able to visit those campuses or participate in events that are of secondary importance. Go See Campus' article, "Plan Campus Visits: Two Strategies for Your College Trip," is a good resource to use in this process!

Expect to spend at least an entire day participating in on-campus activities for each university that of serious interest to the student. For universities that are lesser priorities, you may find that you can see up to two if they are located in the same city. Beyond that, you just have to know that the more time a student spends at a school and the less rushed the experience is, the more he or she is getting from that time.

So take a look at that college map, consider all of the factors that will play into your trip, and make your trip a useful, memorable experience.

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