Campus visits are probably the most (if not the only!) fun part of the college application process. But, they can also be daunting for parents with limited time and budget to shuttle their teens around the country.
Planned bus tours can help parents manage their kids’ Boston college tour schedule by allowing them to clump several schools together. More importantly, fewer chaperones means that teens will be able to picture what their campus experience will be like as an independent young adult!
If you’re thinking of planning a college and university bus tour for a group of prospective students, here are a few tips to get you started.
Decide on your group size
The amount of teens you’re moving is a very important factor for college bus tours. As a rule of thumb, assume that the bigger your group gets, the more complicated it will become to organize your itinerary.
5 to 15 people
If you are simply traveling in a small group made up of close friends and peers, then it might make more sense to rent a passenger van. Bus.com offers sprinter van rentals that can be either driven by a member of your group or by a professional chauffeur.
15 to 29 People
Planning your itinerary will be fairly simple, as some universities don’t even require reservations for a group this size! (But verify on each school’s website to be safe.) To keep your trip economical, we suggest looking into renting a school bus or a mini-bus.
30 People or More
Once your group hits 30 students, you might run into scheduling challenges. Some schools like North Eastern won’t let you schedule a visit for a group of 50 people, and will suggest that the group split up and register to tours campus visits separately. Harvard only allows you to register visitors 5 at a time for information sessions, and have limited of spots per time slot.
If you are organizing a tour for a large group of students, we suggest renting two vehicles and staggering your groups’ college visit itineraries.
Plan for chaperones
Some schools like Boston University require that there be a chaperone present for every 15 students, so make sure you plan the proper adult-to-teen ratio ahead of time.
As for any group trip involving unaccompanied minors, you will need to make sure that each teen has a legal guardian fill out a permission slip detailing which adult is legally responsible for them during their travels, and make sure that the chaperones also accept legal responsibility for the group in writing.
Decide on when to visit
The ideal moment to visit a college would be a high-school holiday during which colleges are still in session.
Most campuses don’t accept visits on the weekends, making the summer slightly more practical for extensive college touring itineraries. However, fall and winter months are great to get a better idea of college life, and avoid unrealistic expectations of eternal good weather on campus.
Map out your itinerary
New England might seem small, but mapping your trip out and being aware of commute time will ensure you can make all of your appointments.
To create your itinerary, map out all your stops, and then arrange your itinerary in a “loop” with as little double-backs as possible. We recommend keeping it to 6 stops or less, and limiting yourself to 2 colleges per day to keep the trip manageable.
Planning your Boston Metropolitan Area College Bus Tour
Boston city is the perfect starting point to your East Coast college bus tour. And, with Boston University, MIT, and Harvard in such close proximity, it will be easy for you to plan several visits in one day, or to split up your group based on the students’ interests. If the weather permits it, we suggest docking the bus and making your way between schools afoot for your students to get a better idea of what student life in Boston can be like.
Planning your Rhode Island College Bus Tour
Rhode Island is a two hour bus ride from Boston, making Brown University your next logical stop on the East Coast college campus circuit. Depending on how many schools you want to visit in the area, you might end up pairing this visit with a campus in Providence or New Hampshire.
Planning your Connecticut & New Hampshire College Bus Tour
This is a three hour bus ride from Boston, so we suggest blocking a full day for visits to Yale and University of New Haven. Since New Hampshire is a half hour away from Connecticut, you could plan a Dartmouth visit on your way to Connecticut.
Planning your New York Metropolitan Area College Bus Tour
Packing New York college visits into your itinerary might be ambitious, but it is doable if you’re ready for the 5 hour bus ride from Boston to the Big Apple.
Many students are attracted to NYU and Columbia because they are situated in a vibrant city. To let the teens on your tour figure out if they would prefer attending school in NYC rather than a university town, we suggest docking your tour bus and moving your student group from school to school by subway.
Book everything in advance
The more ambitious your student bus tour is, the more important it becomes for you to proactively book your visits and accommodations ahead of your trip.
Most colleges and universities have comprehensive websites with easy to use sign-up forms, and near-campus accommodation recommendations. If you’re visiting during the summer, we suggest inquiring about on-campus accommodations in dorms, which will add to your group’s college experience!
We also suggest taking advantage of our flexible cancellation policy, and reserving the tour bus you need for your group. To find out how much renting a school bus, mini bus, or coach bus would cost for your East Coast college campus tour, you can request a bus rental quote here.