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Making the College Visit a Mini-Vacation and Other Great Advice on this Rite of Passage

We're delighted to welcome Mary Dell Harrington to the blog today! Mary Dell cofounded the wonderful blog, Grown and Flown, with Lisa Endlich Heffernan, which covers all things kids aged 15 to 25. (And we're so lucky to have both of them as regular guests here!) Today, we get to ride along with Mary Dell and her 17-year-old daughter as they travel through one of the wonderful rites of passage in the college admission journey -- the college visit. We personally found these visits to be peak parenting experiences and it sounds like Mary Dell and her daughter did, as well. You can, too -- especially with her excellent advice.


Our youngest child will soon finalize her college list and begin the process of uploading her heart and soul into the Common Application. By winter break, she will be liberated from thinking about SATs and self-reflective essays, never to dwell on them again! The only part of the college hunt that I hope she might recall, perhaps even fondly, are the college trips we took together. It is the singular aspect of the process that parents truly share with their child and the only one with the potential to both inform and entertain.

Based on my experience with our daughter and her older brother, here are ways we tried to make looking at colleges more like mini-vacations and less like drudgery:

1. Act like tourists