09/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

College Admissions Tours: 5 Helpful Tips For Parents

We have been touring college campuses all summer with our "rising senior" (I love this term, it makes her sound so rebellious). Now, autumn is approaching, and with it, inevitably, more college tours. If you're just getting started on the admissions process, and want to preserve the dignity of your child, please allow me to offer some helpful tips before that first college visit.

1) All of the information is online. On the school's website. All of it. So, when the leader of the information session asks if there are any questions, the correct response is to sit quietly, with your hands folded on your lap. Or, if you really need attention, you can shake your head vigorously and mouth the word no. Please, I beseech you, do not raise your hand and ask if the school offers programs abroad. YES! YES THEY ALL DO! It's on the website. Don't ask if the school has adequate security. YES! The place is more secure than the Pentagon. Go online and read all about their alarm systems, their date rape task force, their walking escorts, sober driving buddies, video monitors that cover every square inch of the campus, SWAT teams that arrive within seconds of an emergency call, but please don't force the rest of us to listen to the admissions officer drone on, just so you can show off with your redundant and long-winded questions.

2) Please don't ask if your bilingual, 4.0 average, Olympic swim-team shortlisted daughter can have triple majors. It's online. And to the guy who asked this in an information session we attended last month -- I recognized you. We were at the same preschool information session 14 years ago. You were the one asking if the Montessori nursery school would be "stimulating" enough for your 3 year old who was reading Homer's Odyssey. I know I'm not the only one who has fantasized about you. Not the kind of fantasies you have in mind, egghead. The kind that involve baseball bats and kneecaps.

3) Yes, the bathrooms in the dorms are coed. Process this quietly, in your head. No need to humiliate your child by stammering, "You mean ...the showers are ...coed, too?" Yes, they are, but your child will not be forced to shower with members of the opposite sex. They will do this of their own free will.

4) It's fine to mention that you attended the university to all of us strangers on your tour. Then, please drop it. Nobody is really interested in how they've changed the color of the walls in the dining hall since you were there, nor do we particularly care what fraternity you belonged to. It's hot, our feet are tired. Let the tour guide do the talking.

5) Finally, nobody is going to remember that you were the one who complimented the tour guide on her outfit/choice of majors/country of origin, so just stop with all the brown-nosing.

In summary: Hands on laps. No talking, no eye contact. Follow the example of your kids. Just sign in and follow the leader of the tour. Then go online. It's all there.

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