College Open House Events: Warm Encounters

Part 2: College Visits with My Son

Visiting Colleges with My Son – Fall Open House Events

My son and I have been doing what many families with college-bound teens do during fall–visit colleges. We opted to go the formal campus visit route and attend fall college open house events. He handled the online registrations for each college on his list, which was great, as this put him in charge of the process and gave him a first stab at how he would represent himself to a college.

The only downside was that either the registration forms did not ask for a parent’s email address or, if they did, he chose not to include mine. I ended up having to ask him when we needed to arrive, where to park, etc. But this turned out to be okay, too, since we had to plan together when to leave, which route to take, and how to make the most of the trip. We had a system down after the first open house trip.

Virginia Tech Fall Open House

Burruss Hall, Virginia Tech Fall Open House 2015

College Open House Programs Vary

How each program is structured varies tremendously from college to college. While I plan to break these down in a future post, overall, my takeaways are these:

  1. It’s really hard to fit everything in between 9 am and 2 pm. Unless you already know which program or major is right for you, there’s just not enough time to attend all the sessions you want to attend, go on the tour, talk with faculty, eat on campus, etc.
  2. The more interaction with teaching faculty and enrolled students the better the insight you gain about a particular program and the college overall.
  3. If you visit a college when it’s raining, cold or windy and you still like it when you leave, you’re going to love it when the sun is shining.

Parents of College-bound Teens are Open

It’s not only the students and college administrators and faculty who greet you with open arms on a college visit, fellow parents of the college-bound are also warm and welcoming. I spoke with many parents as we fell in step together either on tours or exploring campus on our own (which, translated, means we were lost and looking for the model dorm room).

Perhaps, it’s the “we’re all in the same boat” mentality? All I know is that during many sessions when a faculty member would talk about his or her experience as parent (“like you”), I would see heads nodding in unison at the mention of having a child who chose a path different from the one the parent expected, or was late on getting everything turned in when applying and had to face the consequences, or who even just refused to get out of the car upon arriving on campus to visit.

RELATED: Parent College Coach Tip #60: What Is Your Parenting Style?

Whether we were talking with families we did not know or running into other students and their parents from my son’s high school (which has happened at three open house events so far), I think discovering that neither of us are alone on this journey has been a good thing.

Read also: Beginning College Visits with My Son

Author: Z. Kelly Queijo

Kelly is founder of Smart College Visit and Smart College Consulting. When she's not creating content for the blog or clients, tweeting, or hosting #CampusChat, she's planning her next mobile move.

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