Have you ever taken a vacation and booked your lodging arrangements from a website? Most of us have, and most of us have arrived only to find out the room, breakfast, and pool are not nearly as glamorous as the online photos.
That can be the case for college as well. You can read the reviews, see the pictures online, and even talk to someone who attended the campus - but nothing compares to being there in person.
Rebeca Safier wrote a great blog post for PrepScholar describing 4 great reasons that you should visit college before you apply. Really great advice and justification for spending a few bucks on the trip (not to mention the bonding time you'll have with your teenager).
This time of year, many students are starting to receive acceptance letters for the upcoming fall semester. It may be a great time for another trip to your top 1 or 2 colleges.
Now that your teenager is in their final semester of high school, their opinions, perspectives, and outlook may be a bit different than 12 or 18 months ago when you first took a visit. Their perspective changes from "maybe I might want to apply here" to "wow, could I really call this place my home for the next 4 or 5 years?" - and that is a great question!
You can certainly benefit from a college visit checklist - here's a great example from the College Board. At the end of the day, the final choice may just come down to a gut feeling that your son or daughter gets when they take a walk through the campus.
Remember, this is a significant financial decision for you and your student. In the scope of their life so far, this may very well be the biggest decision they have had to make.