Some parents wonder about the usefulness of visiting in the summer because regular classes are not in session. But because of the frantic pace of school time, a summer tour is often the most effective way to cover a large number of schools, especially those that are far away. (Just beware that the tan bodies who seem so college-chic may be high school impostors.) If a student falls in love with a college in the summer, he or she can always visit again in April after the acceptance letter arrives.
There is no right way to approach a college visit. Highly organized people often keep elaborate checklists; others simply go with their gut feelings. I know one counselor who peers into the bathrooms to learn about the maintenance standards (and thereby the financial health) of each school.
For everyone's peace of mind, the college tour should be conducted at a leisurely pace. Be prepared for a few stress flare-ups, especially if interviews are on the agenda, and try to program some fun to keep everyone relaxed. Don't try to cram in more than two colleges on any particular day, and leave plenty of time to get lost once or twice on the way to your next destination.
College visits are a time for students to step forward and take center stage. Parents can help by offering support and an extra pair of eyes and ears. Some of the best family time can happen in the car or on the plane en route from a college visit.
And by the way, the blue blazer is optional. While students should dress nicely to show respect for the occasion, they should also choose clothes that make them feel comfortable.