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Cultivating Independence: The Art of Parenting on College Campus Visits

College campus visits are a pivotal phase in a student's life—a step towards independence and a potential game-changer in their academic and personal growth. However, as a parent, your role during these visits is equally essential. It's a fine line between supportive guidance and inadvertently making the decision for them. As you begin considering plans for spring college visits, keep in mind some of these tips for parents on your role during the campus visit.

The Liberating Power of Encouraging Independence

Nurturing independence is the cornerstone of successful parenting, especially in the formative years leading up to college. As your child steps onto the first campus, they're taking a tangible step towards their future decision-making skills and self-sufficiency.


  • Allow the child to take the lead based on their interests during the visit.

  • Empower them with the decision-making process; this could include planning the trip or choosing which schools to visit.

  • Step back and provide space to explore the campus and envision life as a student.

The Art of Asking the Right Questions

College visits are not just a time for reflecting on a vibrant quad but also an opportunity to gather critical information. You want to ensure that your child is equipped to ask the right questions and get the most out of these visits.


  • Prioritize openness and communication, ensuring your child feels supported in their quest for knowledge about potential colleges.

  • Research the college with your child before the visit and encourage them to delve into specifics about their programs and plans.

  • Guide them in asking open-ended questions to gain a deeper understanding of academics, campus culture, and student support.

Check out our College Visit Question Guide for a list of questions to consider asking on your Tour

Navigating the Financial Frontier

Discussions around college can be incomplete without addressing the financial aspects. College visits are a crucial time to start having these conversations openly and candidly.


  • Ahead of the visit, discuss financial parameters. What are you willing and able to contribute? What about loans and work-study options?

  • Encourage your child to explore the financial aid office during their visit and empower them to discuss scholarship opportunities and any financial concerns with college representatives.

  • Ensure both of you understand the long-term financial implications of the chosen college and the potential return on investment.

The Fine Art of Respecting Their Decision

Your child's college choice might not align with your vision, and that's okay. Respecting their decision-making autonomy is essential to their self-esteem and growth.


  • Create a supportive space where opinions are valued and all options are explored without judgment.

  • Acknowledge their goals and preferences, even if they differ from your initial expectations.

  • Validate their choices, and work collectively towards finding the best fit based on their desires.

Allowing Your Child to Take the Lead on the Visit

The college visit is a journey that belongs to your child, not you. Learn to take a backseat and watch as they interact with tour guides and admissions officers, forming their own impressions.


  • Avoid monopolizing conversations with officials. Let your child ask questions and form their own relationships with the school.

  • Offer to observe from a distance if your presence seems to hinder their exploration or interactions.

  • Be open to your child's interpretations of the visit. It's their perspective that should shape their college shortlist.

As a parent, your influence is undeniable. However, by understanding your role and navigating it consciously, you're not just aiding your child's college search—you're laying the foundation for a lifetime of INDEPENDENT decision-making and growth.

The college visit is just the beginning of empowering your child to make their important life choices. Mastering this balancing act is not easy, but the rewards are immeasurable. Embrace this journey, and you'll watch as your child blossoms into a confident adult ready to tackle the challenges of higher education and beyond.


Garrett Educational Consulting provides comprehensive counseling for college and boarding school admissions as well as academic advisement. Click HERE to learn about our services.

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