Assuming you’ve maxed out your echelon and are choosing between admits from within the TOP-MOST echelon, now’s the time for you to step away from the steering wheel, and let your child lead the way. (Read our post on echelons here).
[It’s gonna feel wildly disorienting at first. But trust us. Even the POSTURING here will go a long way toward having productive school tours, and conversations about how those tours went.]
Don’t be “that parent…”
Once the tour begins, do NOT be “that parent” who asks a million questions. Here’s the painful, counterintuitive truth: none of the answers to your questions (however smart they may SEEM to you) are ultimately all that meaningful. The only thing that should TRULY be a needle-mover after college visits is the KINSHIP your child feels with a particular school over the rest. The “soul-mate” thing. That feeling that can’t be traced to a stat, or to logic. It’s the feeling that’s more like “I have NO IDEA WHY, but… this is the place.” That’s the compass that your child (and you) should use to help guide the process.
How do you get that feeling? Well, here’s a neat tactic that’s much easier said than done.
Embracing the “this is going to be the school…” mentality
As much as you can, at the start of each campus tour, your child should embrace the idea that THIS is gonna be the school. Another way to think about it, start out rooting FOR the program. As opposed to… the opposite. Which is to walk IN with a negative perception. Because the ONLY thing that is likely to happen at that point is “confirmation bias.” With a positive attitude, however, the mind has a neat way of “giving negative events a PASS” and your ability to feel a stronger magnetic pull toward one school above the rest will be “truer.”
Once you’re on the tour, let your child engage, and ask all the questions. It may even be a decent idea to hang at the back of the crowd while your son/daughter is up in the front. It’s a small gesture, but can go a long way toward helping your child feel empowered (this feeling of empowerment can have powerful implications on how they ultimately engage with “college” itself, and yes, it can start to develop in this otherwise unremarkable gesture).
Keep a record or log of reactions to the campus and tour
After the tour, make sure your child keeps some kind of record of reactions. Evernote, Google Doc, whatever the preferred medium, have them LOG it somehow. What we want is pure, unadulterated INSTINCTS. How did it all … feel? What was the vibe? Did it feel right? Way wrong? Meh? You may not even need to discuss this… yet. There may be a moment when you can offer your opinion of the school, but it’s generally in your best interest to let them GUIDE this. And for you to support them if they feel a strong magnetic pull somewhere.
Using campus tours to max out your student’s echelon
Long and short, your student’s decision on where to attend BEGINS with maxing out their echelon. And then, if there are still multiple choices, to then decide based on GUT INSTINCT. That elusive “feeling.”
A campus tour/visit can help toward getting this “vibe.” But it’s only a part of the picture, not the whole thing. You may get a lackluster tour guide. It may be raining on the day you visit. There are all sorts of things that can cast the school in an unfair light. This is where “rooting FOR the program” can be a helpful tool in allowing your heart and soul to look PAST those things, to get a truer sense of the overall vibe. At the end of all the visits and tours… your child’s gut will automatically lean toward ONE place. If they’re stuck, and they need help and solicit your opinion, then you can and should offer it. But, this is the (often difficult) first step for YOU, to learn to let go of the steering wheel, and help your child begin his/her ascension into adulthood…
Need some help with a college application? That’s what we’re here for!