Five tips create better college visits

| June 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

The meat and potatoes of life

Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer

Listen up, hallowed halls. Take note, institutions of higher learning. Lend me your ears, foundations of educational excellence.



You may think you know it all, but even the snootiest universities could use a few words of sage advice from the parents of prospective applicants.

I’ll admit, we search for glasses that are perched on our heads, forget to defrost the pork chops and wander around trying to remember why we came upstairs, but take heed, parents are experts when it comes to what makes a good college visit.

With one kid already in college, one graduating from high school next year and one graduating in three years, my Navy husband and I are in that frazzled state of parenthood marked by financial panic, misplaced dreams and rapid debt accumulation.

But our strong parental instinct drives us to blindly ignore our Chapter 11 premonitions and encourage our children to pursue their educational goals.


Last week, I spent three days going to information sessions and campus tours with our middle child. We learned a lot on our college visit odyssey and believe it is our duty to pass these tips on to college admissions officials across the nation.


#1 – Free stuff. That’s right, we’re not too proud to admit that we like getting stuff for free: pens, key chains, lanyards, whatever. We’ve driven a gazillion miles, stayed overnight in questionable motels and have been fed like cattle through breakfast buffet lines where we ate pasteurized egg product omelets, which could have doubled for brake pads, and cups of coffee, which tasted like they were filtered through my son’s gym socks.

So, yeah, a couple of free pens might be nice. And if you really want to make an impression, why not print us up some cool T-shirts and shoot them at us through air cannons like they do at football games?

#2 – Walk backwards. It’s gimmicky, but we like it when student tour guides walk backwards for the entire campus tour. It keeps us entertained like the daredevil routine at the circus.

Will he trip over that curb? Will that branch snag her hair? Why not work in few uneven sidewalk pavers or an open manhole cover to add a touch of suspense? Oh, what fun!

#3 – Potty breaks. Parents have a plethora of bladder control quirks, so provide plenty of breaks to use the facilities. These are especially important if you generously offered refreshments (we do like free stuff) and don’t want parents exposing themselves on the quad to “water the shrubs.”

#4 – Point out the elephant in the room. By “charming college town” did you mean that strip mall across the street with the pawnshop and the e-cig emporium? Was that the Hell’s Angels that just drove by the Student Union?

Even if your bubbly tour guide acted like we were walking the streets of Mayberry, we noticed every sketchy-looking corner, and now can’t stop envisioning our daughter being mugged by some unsavory character on his way back from the methadone clinic. So yeah, let’s talk about this.

#5 – Get to the point. We may spend the entire day wandering your dappled walkways and ogling your columned architecture, but make no mistake about it, we really just want a school that will make our kid happy and won’t break the bank.

So, don’t bother going on and on about collaborative research, evolving identities and transformative enlightenment. Let’s go over financial aid, and I’m not talking loans.

(A 20-year military spouse and mother of three, Molinari has plenty of humor to share in her column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” which appears in military and civilian newspapers and at

Tags: ,

Category: Community, Education

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *