Tips to Take on the Tour, by Megan Freedman

Published on January 5, 2015

You’ve made that list of schools to tour, so what should you look for on the tour?

I found it helpful to keep the tours sorted in a spreadsheet. Here’s mine including school names, addresses, websites, tour dates, admissions deadlines (if applicable) and other pertinent details. After you take the tour, add a few thoughts about your reaction to the school into the spreadsheet while it’s fresh on your mind. After a few tours, you may find it helpful to segment the schools you’ve toured into yeses, no’s, and maybes in terms of whether you’d like to apply/put on your choice form. That can help you select what information you need to retain and what bits you can mentally file in the dusty back of the drawer.

And don’t get too attached to any one school right away. I figured that out long after the fact. It’s natural to have strong feelings about a particular school. The campus, the teachers, or the culture may really appeal to you on a deep level. But our priorities evolved throughout our tour de choice. I fell hard for one school immediately, and spent the rest of the following week trying to convince my husband that we needed to give our kids “the best” and who needs to go to Disneyland when you can go to school X and so on. And then we had our son tested and the testing consultant steered us in a completely different direction, and school X plunked right off the table.

At the end of the day, if I could go back to 2013 and talk to myself before touring schools, I would say—think carefully but open-mindedly about the schools you’d like to tour. Go into each one ready to see what there is to see and feel your feelings about the place. Capture the logistical details (and your reactions) in one place that you can refer back to you later. And then let that information marinate for a bit. You’ll have time to make a rational choice later on about which schools you want to try to get a spot in.

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