College visits should be an exciting time for students and their families, but they can become overwhelming both personally and financially.

Just ask St. Edward’s Director of Admissions Dinah Kinard, who encourages students and families to think ahead when planning a visit and to take advantage of the in-person and virtual visit options that universities offer. 

Below Kinard shares sage advice on how students can carve out time for reflection during a college visit. And given inflation and rising travel costs, she also gives tips on how to have a budget-friendly college visit, including a free virtual visit that can be done from home, and watching The College Tour at St. Edward’s episode.

Man walking by "Greetings from Austin" Mural

Tip #1: Economize Visits 

If you are already planning a vacation or family trip somewhere this year, add a visit to a local college in the area or make a stop at a college that is along your driving route. Or if you are planning a trip specifically to look at colleges, choose an area where you can visit different types of colleges (large and small, public and private, urban and suburban) within the same vicinity to economize time and expense. Even if you are not interested in those specific schools, it will allow you to shape your college search and then extrapolate those features to similar colleges in an area of the country that you are considering.

Students walking in St. Andre Apartments

Tip #2: Schedule Free Time

Try not to visit more than two colleges in one day. It’s easy to schedule back-to-back tours from one campus to another, only accounting for driving time and a quick lunch break. Each campus visit will provide a lot of good information, and you don’t want to be overloaded to the point that the experience isn’t useful. Leave some unstructured, free time either before or after each campus visit, so you can walk around, observe the campus outside of the formal setting, grab coffee at the on-campus coffee shop, peruse the bookstore, and process the visit, emotionally, too. Sit on a bench somewhere on campus and talk with your future college student about what they liked about the experience and, maybe, what didn’t resonate with them.

Campus Tour Guide showing guests landmarks

Tip #3: Take Ownership

Have your future college student take ownership of the visit by encouraging them to be the one to fill out the online visit registration form or to contact the Admission Office to set up a visit. This is their college search and it always makes a favorable impression on an admission office, when the student takes the lead in scheduling the tour and asking questions during the visit.

St. Edward's University view from a drone in the sky

Tip #4: Get Comfy

Finally, take advantage of the plethora of free, online resources to visit colleges without even having to leave the comfort of home or spend money on travel. The College Tour is a series of 30- to 60-minute episodes of a wide variety of colleges, including St. Edward’s, and each episode is driven by current students’ voices who highlight aspects of what they love most about their college – from the academic to co-curricular to student life and campus culture. You can watch the St. Edward’s episode or specific chapters of the episode on the university’s YouTube channel. St. Edward's also offers a guided virtual visit that can be done from home to navigate through campus on your own time.

Hear it from Dinah herself! These 4 Tips were Highlighted by Local News.

Watch as Dinah Kinard, director of Admissions, shared these college visit tips with CBS KEYE.