One of the absolute best ways to learn more about a high school is to visit that school. While structured visits (e.g. open houses) are available, scheduling an individual visit for your family might be even more valuable as you consider your options.

So, how do you maximize the impact of that visit? Below is a checklist that can help!

  • Schedule the visit for during the school day if at all possible. Yes, this might be harder to arrange around work schedules, etc., but it is worth it so that you can see the school in action!
  • Take a list of questions. Seriously, take a written list of questions. You’ll be amazed at how easily you might forget to ask those most important questions, and you’ll be sorry if that happens. Admissions directors love when families come prepared, especially when those questions aren’t the ones that you could have answered on your own by reading the brochure or visiting a couple of web pages. Not sure what to ask? Check out our Comprehensive List of High School Search Criteria for a start!
  • Take a tour of campus. This might seem obvious, but specifically ask for it, and allow time for it. Depending on the size of the school, it could take as long as 30-45 minutes in addition to time spent in the admissions office. If your time is limited and/or if you have special areas of interest to you, let the tour guide know.
  • See classrooms in action. Some schools offer parent shadowing days, while others will let you sneak a peek into classrooms while visiting. Yet others offer video samples of classroom instruction. During your tour, though, be sure that you get to see teaching and learning in action.
  • Ask questions of someone other than the admissions office. The admissions staff member knows a lot about the school. In fact, he/she probably can answer nearly every question you ask. But don’t hesitate to ask questions of others you see on campus. Great sources are current students, teachers, and perhaps those parents you see on campus. The admissions office will love seeing this interaction, unless of course the school is nervous about what you might learn!
  • Pay attention to how you are treated. How the school’s receptionist or greeter treats you might tell you a lot about the culture of the school. The interactions with teachers and/or students might do the same. If you ever visit the school unannounced, you will get an even better feel for how you are welcomed as a family.