Applying to college is full of major decisions. Deciding which school you want to go to is one of the biggest. Campus visits are a big part of making the abstract a reality. Unfortunately, many students believe that numerous out of state campus visits are not practical. In truth, you should never commit to a school you haven’t visited. Websites can only tell you so much and they are giving you a biased version of reality at that.

While trips themselves are typically free, there are quite a few costs you’ll have to deal with when visiting a college whether it is local or not. We’d like to let you know about those costs so you can decide which schools are worth a visit and which schools are not.

Getting There

It may seem crazy to take a cross-country flight just to take a tour of a college. However, if this is a place you plan on spending tens of thousands of dollars, you want to make sure it is going to be a good fit. If need be, make a road trip out of it and put a vacation in between. It may pay off in the long run. Many students like the idea of going as far away from home as possible, but the reality of the situation often changes their perspective.

Staying There

Be prepared to get a hotel or motel room. Campus visits are often all day, and sometimes multiday events. You’re not going to want to drive hundreds of miles, just to drive home and drive hundreds of miles again the next day.

Eating There

Most campus visit programs will have a complimentary lunch. Great… What about breakfast and dinner and snacks and anything else. When budgeting for your campus visit, don’t take the words ‘Free’ at face value. Be prepared to take care of a day’s worth of meals for however long the visit is set to last.

Being There

Planning your campus visit is key. Now is an important time and you don’t want your kid to miss any school. That’s why it’s best to plan a visit around a holiday or scheduled time off for both the student and the parent. As important as a college visit is, you don’t want it to interrupt your regular life.

Cutting Down on Campus Visit Costs

Don’t take every tour that’s offered to you. If you know you’re not going to go to the school, skip the visit. It’s a waste of time and money.

Consider working your way out. Try the closest schools you’re interested in first and working your way to the ones that are farther away. With any luck, you’ll find the right fit closer to home and skip that pricey plane ticket.

Some schools are willing to eat the costs of your visit if they are interested enough in you. They may have reimbursement plans or vouchers to take the financial burden completely off your shoulders. If you can find deals like these, by all means, take advantage of them. Some travel business will offer discounts in the same vein for college visits as well.

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

If you’re unsure what steps a school is willing to go to get you to a campus visit, simply ask them. You’d be surprised how much people miss out on because they just don’t ask. This may not be information that a school is going to freely volunteer, but you could get your entire trip paid for through communication and planning. A lot of this depends on how desirable you are as a student. Good grades and strong extracurricular are always a plus when it comes to cutting down on college costs. We hope you find a school where you can excel and make your goals a reality!