How to plan for college visits
Narrowing down your choices and developing a budget can help you keep costs down.
Visiting colleges can be a big investment in both time and money. The costs can add up quickly if you aren't careful. But with a plan in place, you can potentially save yourself from unnecessary expenses and undue stress. Consider these steps to help your prospective college student plan for their upcoming college tours:
Make a list
The first step in planning for college visits is for your college-bound kid to decide which schools they are interested in. They can start by making a list of all different types of schools in different locations with programs that pique their interest.
Set your budget
How much of a budget do you have for these visits? There are a few factors to keep in mind, including the fact that local colleges are likely going to be cheaper to visit than out-of-state ones. As you review your list, keep your overall budget in mind as you figure out how much each college might cost to visit. Remember to include gas, plane tickets, food and lodging costs into your estimates.
Narrow your choices
You probably don't have the time or budget to visit every college on the list. That means narrowing down the list to something more manageable with a balance between priority schools and the budget. Consider suggesting to your prospective student that they might want to visit a mix of different types of schools to get a better sense of what small versus large or public versus private feels like.
Consider ways to save on costs
You budget for college itself, but keep in mind that you may also need funds before classes even begin. If you need to fit more visits in than your budget will allow, consider scheduling a college visit during an already planned vacation if they are in the same area. Or split the travel and lodging costs with other parents taking their kids to visit the same college. Many colleges are located near one another, so you might be able to visit two on the same trip.
Just remember that college visits are about collecting information to better inform final choices. By planning ahead, you can make the most of this exciting process.