The Ultimate Guide to Planning a College Road Trip

March 21, 2022
A post by Rachel Ristow, Associate Director of Admission

Birds are chirping, trees are starting to bloom. We are reaching for the antihistamines and our spring calendars because yes, the time has come. It’s time to plan your college road trips this spring and summer! At Richmond, we look forward to this time of year when admitted students are visiting campus one last time just as juniors are starting their search process. In honor of the changing seasons, we want to give you some tips on planning the perfect college visit.

Know before you go.
Colleges have added a lot of ways to engage virtually with admission counselors, current students, and faculty. Consider taking advantage of some of these virtual classes, virtual chats, and workshops before you step foot on campus. When you get to campus, you will hopefully get to see some familiar faces so please say hi! What can we say — we love to feel famous.

Ask questions – good questions.
If you’ve been touring colleges, I’m sure you’ve had someone in your group who is not afraid to ask questions. Students – maybe you are related to that person. Parents – maybe that person is you. And sure, while you don’t want to overwhelm a tour guide with inquiries, never be embarrassed to ask those burning questions during your visit. We love questions!! Truly!

The key is asking the right questions. If you can easily find it on our website— avoid asking. The tour is short and we want you to maximize your time with us. Ask questions that target the student experience. For example, instead of asking, “What’s the average class size?” ask the tour guide to talk about their biggest or smallest class. Or in place of asking about student-to-faculty ratio, ask them to speak about their favorite professor or a time that a faculty member went above and beyond to help them. Questions like these will help you get below the surface and provide you with more meaningful answers.

Take notes about how you feel.
We are going to pack A LOT of information into a 1.5-hour campus visit, ranging from application tips to student stories. However, after a couple of visits, some of this information may start to blur together. Let’s face it, most colleges and universities offer many similar resources. So, when visiting campuses, set aside some time process all the information. The intangible moments or the “feel.” Before you leave campus, take a couple of minutes to jot down things you loved and things you still have questions about— like what is a Triceragoose? (Hint: ask your Richmond tour guide).

Sit and observe the on-campus culture.
Before or after your planned visit, leave some time explore on your own. Find a bench (or in Richmond’s case a lakeside Adirondack chair), sit down, and do some quality people-watching. You will be amazed at how much you can learn about a school community just by watching. This is a really great way to get a feel for who the students are and how they interact.

Wear appropriate clothes and shoes for long walks.
I don’t think this needs much explanation. Just remember; dress in layers, pack an umbrella, and wear those sneakers. A blister on day 1 of your week-long trip is not fun!

The most important thing to remember— be present. The college search can be a really stressful time. Add to that a week-long road trip visiting multiple states and many colleges…let’s just say it can be quite the pressure cooker. This is such a wonderful, special time. Remember to center on the reason you’re visiting all these campuses and hotel lobbies. Enjoy the trip and the time spent with your family. So, take a deep breath and pack your bags. We can’t wait to see you!