Wednesday’s Parent: Parent role in college visits

Campus this way. Pjhoto by Wendy David-Gaines

Campus this way. Pjhoto by Wendy David-Gaines

Visiting a college is a great way to evaluate a “good on paper” school but students and parents have different roles. Suzanne and I already gave our tips about why these trips are so important on Wednesday’s Parent. I called my post Collegecations because it’s the best way to check student-college fit and get a vacation. Now it’s time to focus on each family member’s function.

So take those college lists on the road to visit schools for the first time or reevaluate those that offered admission.

These are five parts parents play during a college visit:

  1. Fly on the Wall Step back and watch your college-bound child’s body language. You will know his level of comfort, excitement and interest about the campus and its current/prospective students without saying a word. It also will encourage him to take the lead in finding the place he wants to learn and earn his college degree. Parents cannot expect their student to do his best unless he is vested in the college process.
  2. Chief of Security The teen years should be called the “super teen years” because teenagers often feel invincible. Parents, loaded with the wisdom of experience, can spot dangerous conditions with a single glance. While your student is busy looking for what is important to her, parents may focus on the campus security systems such as blue lights and safety escorts. Seek out the Campus Security Office to learn about campus and community crime stats and policies/procedures to keep current students safe.
  3. Voice of Reason Dorm rooms, student centers, club lists are important but when parents find their student ignoring the classrooms, library and placement office, it’s time to speak up. Redirect focus on academic and internship opportunities that will determine the value of a college education.
  4. Financial Advisor It’s hard for the young to think ahead and appreciate the problems of juggling heavy student debt while supporting a desired lifestyle. Parents may provide perspective by analyzing costs, projected future income by career choice, and standard of living with their student. Include a stop at the Financial Aid Office for information about college costs, net price, scholarships and any other programs to help pay the college bill.
  5. Logistics Officer When attending college, students have their room and board set but parents have to arrange these every time they visit. Take time to scout out available accommodations, eateries and methods of transportation. Parent travel costs are not included in the cost of attendance (COA) so families must include them on their own. For more info on additional costs, check out POCS COA and to help plan a collegecation check out Smart College Visit’s Explore Colleges.

Read Suzanne’s blog about the student role in college visits.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

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