This one actually comes from some of Hock's students. Yes, parents, you are paying for this, and probably making great sacrifices to do so. But if really you want to help your child become an adult, let him or her ask the questions. If you have pressing questions, email them or ask the guide after the tour. There's nothing worse than a parent at the front of the tour group, bombarding the guide with questions and monopolizing the talk.
Be observant and take notes
Look around and take it all in. Look at the postings and fliers in common areas. Write down those things that struck you about your visit, good or bad.
Compare your notes to your vision for your ideal college
What did the campus "feel" like? Hock says your intuitive feel for the campus is "highly credible" and should be a critical piece of information as you make your decision. Hock asks, "Did these feel like people you'd like to be friends with and live among for the next four years?"
Talk about the experience and what you think of the college. Hock advises parents to let their student do the talking first, because some students are less likely to contradict their parents if they feel differently about a campus. Engage in a candid dialogue about the pros and cons of each place.
And one more thing: Hock reminds students that they shouldn't skip a college visit. She even recommends an overnight stay on campus, even after you're accepted. One of her students did just that after she learned she'd been accepted to her ideal college. An overnight stay made her realize that the party atmosphere and social life there made her uncomfortable, and she decided to attend another school.
Better learn now than suffer for four years or go through the process of applying again and transferring somewhere else.
"Attending a college you've never visited before is like a four-year-long blind date," Hock says.