The college tour

I just spent the last week traveling through California with my daughter looking at colleges. This was a trip that combined vacation, school tours, seminars and camp. What an experience!

From my perspective, I learned that walking around a college campus in the summer is not necessarily indicative of the real experience. I have a suggestion to tour operators or a budding entrepreneur; start a tour service to high school juniors and seniors and their parents. I am not a tour-type traveler, but I could have really used the help on this one. I have another similar trip planned for the East Coast, and I started calling around to see if any such service existed. I couldn’t find one. I know that traveling to see colleges is a privilege for many aspiring students, but packaged correctly could be done on a very cost-effective basis.

For those of you about to embark on this journey, here is what I learned:

  • Understand what your major will be.
  • Bulk your trips by geography.
  • Call ahead and meet with school officials if possible.
  • Have your hotel help with arrangements and school contacts.
  • Eat a meal on campus.
  • Talk to at least one student.
  • If you have interests in other subjects (sports, music, religion, community service) look at financial aid and scholarships.
  • Talk to coaches on campus.
  • Take a day or week course at the school if feasible.
  • Ask about the culture of a school — just like companies, they all have one.
  • Look at the relevant statistics and include endowments (more endowments mean more scholarships).
  • Spend a night at the campus hotel or dorm if possible.
  • Talk to a friendly travel agent — they have all been through this and will have some great advice.