Can My Child Visit Colleges Alone?
High school students often visit college campuses alone to get an inside view of college life. Should you let your child do it? Do colleges allow it? What will your child gain? Find out here…
While it’s often recommended that parents attend college visits with their children in order to get a feel for the college themselves, sometimes it’s good to give your child the independence that he or she is about to have as a college student during the visit.
So, should your child visit colleges alone?
But can your child visit colleges alone?
It’s important that you, as a parent, keep a few things in mind and discuss certain issues with your child first.
The Challenge Of Overnight College Visits
Since colleges and universities are aware of how important visits are, they are usually prepared and offer organized overnight visits through the admissions office. At such visits your son or daughter will most likely stay in one of the dormitories. This will help your child to get a sense of the accommodations and the overall mood of the place.
If you find that a college isn’t up to your standards in terms of safety or that a particular school is too important for your child to visit alone, work to find a compromise.
This idea might make some parents uncomfortable. After all, your child is likely still in high school when making these visits. Ask yourself: would you be comfortable with your child staying over at a friend’s house?
If so, consider that this might be a similar situation in terms of safety. Though your child will not be directly supervised (many colleges will have you sign a waiver about that fact), most dorms are secure, alcohol-free and have an RA on each hall.
If you are not comfortable with the idea of a solo overnight visit, consider having your child visit with a close friend, an older sibling or a trustworthy alum of your child’s high school who attends the college. Or, if the visit is far away and you want to make sure you’re nearby, a good compromise could be to have your child stay in the dorms while you stay in a hotel on campus.
Making Sure The College Trip Is Worth It
While some parents might be concerned about safety on a solo college visit, others might simply be worried that their child isn’t going to gather all of the necessary information about the college to make the right decision.
You can help calm these worries by sitting down with your child and planning out the visit beforehand. Make a list or schedule of meetings or classes to attend, or offices and facilities to visit. Write up a list of questions to ask of faculty and current students. Ask your child to check in with you at designated times so that the two of you can talk over the events of the day.
What About Drinking?
If your concern is about drinking and parties, you will probably want to call or meet with administrators to ask questions related to alcohol consumption.
First of all, you should inquire about the school’s alcohol and substance abuse policies. You will also want to ask if there are alcohol-free dorms and alcohol-free social events. Finding out about the number of alcohol-related injuries and/or deaths that have occurred on campus is also advisable.
There are other questions which are not directly related to drinking and substance abuse but which could prove relevant. These include finding out how long it takes the average student to graduate and whether they have adult or student advisors overseeing the dorms.
The Final Decision…
If you find that a college isn’t up to your standards in terms of safety or that a particular school is too important for your child to visit alone, work to find a compromise. Consider offering a solo visit to your child at another school instead, one that you find more trustworthy, that is closer to home, or that has people there whom you can rely on to take care of your child.