As a veteran now of three college visits with my recently minted senior, I have accumulated some valuable information that I would like to share with those who are also beginning this journey.
So here are my top 10 tips for maximizing the level of embarrassment you can provide during college visits. You can chose for yourself whether this is a “to do” or a “not to do” list.
Torturing them can be kinda fun.
1) Exist. Yes, your mere existence is embarrassing. But you knew that, because by the time you embark on the college search you’ve had a teenager for a little while now and have surely enraged him/her by continuing to breathe and take up space in the universe. However, your existence during the tour of a college campus is especially horrifying. How dare you.
2) Wear clothes. Your wardrobe choices are a reflection on your child as they attempt to remain as utterly invisible as possible during this experience. Your shoes probably make noise when you walk, or you look too good, or too uncool, or pretty much just like yourself. Stop it.
3) Quietly share your opinion. The campus is beautiful, or not. But your insistence on observing details is outrageous. Yes, the dorms look just like the ones you lived in. Or not at all like them. Stop noticing stuff. Seriously.
4) Ask a question. Curious about the dining program? Wonder about campus security? Do they offer the major that your child is interested in? Go ahead and ask, I dare you.
5) Follow the tour guide. You are too close to the front, or too far back. You made eye contact and smiled? You should be so ashamed of yourself.
6) Make a joke about co-ed dorms. Kids love jokes, especially when they imply some level of hanky panky. To maximize impact, actually say the words “hanky panky.”
7) Start a sentence with “when I was in college.” This is especially effective if you are an alumni of the school you are visiting. But in general the thought that you have memories of this type of experience is enough to set a teen ablaze in angst.
8) Ask what your child thinks so far. Damn you, why do you insist on knowing what is going on in the assessment of this huge life decision? Why?
9) Offer to purchase something in the gift shop. Sure your kid wants a t-shirt, but admitting that and walking into the shop to pick one out is beyond crazy. Must you be so irritating?
10) Hand them the handouts. Yes, the brochures and forms are for them. Yes, they do want to read more about what the school offers and get more information. But must you be so obvious about giving her the opportunity to read the materials? Dude.
These 10 tips form the basis for a solidly embarrassing experience. Surely at some point in the day your loving child will turn to you and hiss “will you just STOP TALKING?” That’s when you’ll know you have successfully fulfilled your role as a parent.
For bonus points you could always encourage him/her to apply and offer any necessary assistance in that process.
How dare you.