It was a classic case of "good news/bad news." First, the good news (actually, great news): Kristin, my oldest daughter, wanted to attend a Christian college. Since my wife and I met at a Christian school, we have very fond memories of our time there. Along with being the roots of our romance, the Christian campus helped ground us in our faith and showed us how to apply our beliefs to our vocational choices.
So what was the bad news? The cost. To say the least, tuition and room and board are quite a bit more than they were 30 years agoespecially at a private institution.
Since I work for a not-for-profit organization, I don't have a six-figure income. It was obvious we needed to start watching how we spent every nickel. And while visiting prospective colleges was essential to making an intelligent choice, we also knew multiple visits across the country would be a budget breaker. Then it hit us: Why not combine our already budgeted family vacation with college visits? This two-for-one-price approach made a great deal of sense.
So, in the summer before Kristin's senior year, we traveled to Southern California and Washington State to visit both sets of our kids' grandparents, saving on hotel bills by staying with family. As we traveled from one grandparents' house to the other, we visited Christian colleges along the way. Since Kristin wanted to visit some West Coast schools, the trip was a dream come true. Then when we got home, we made some less-expensive day and weekend visits to local Christian colleges near our home in the Chicago suburbs.
As you pull together your own campus visits, I'd encourage you to also take your own "vacation with a purpose." And to really get the most of your time and money, I'd also encourage you to follow these nine tips for successful visits.