The education students receive and relationships they’ll forge in college will influence the rest of their lives, so it’s important to put in the time to prepare for making this monumental decision.
And properly preparing for such a decision means visiting colleges to see them in person. Though it can be fun and exciting, visit costs add up quickly if each trip is not an official visit — a visit where the college pays for travel, lodging and certain per diem expenses. (Each recruit is limited to five official DI school visits but can be offered unlimited official visits for other divisions.)
For many potential recruits, their college trips will be of the unofficial visit variety, meaning that’s it’s paid for them and their families. Unless the visit is a short car ride away and the student has a free place to stay, things will likely get pricey as expenses for lodging, food and transportation accumulate. Fortunately, there are a few things future college student-athletes can do to save some hard-earned cash:
- Bring along friends, teammates or siblings. Traveling in a group can offer big-time savings, especially when splitting the costs of a carpool or place to stay. It can be difficult to plan a visit to a school that everyone has interest in, but it’s worth the effort.
- Plan the visit around a family vacation. Parents may prefer to spend their vacations lounging at a beachside resort, but I’d wager they’re also interested in saving cash by doubling up college visits and vacation time.
- Make sure to look for flight deals. Those who need to fly for their college visit should spend some time looking for a great flight deal. Useful tools such as Google Flights and Hopper help users find cheap flights and set notifications for when specific flights drop down in price. Some colleges even offer fly-in programs and will pay a portion of a student’s airfare.
- Score a deal on accommodations. Apps like Hotel Tonight can help travelers score a good deal on a hotel, while Airbnb often has budget-priced accommodations available. Those going with a traditional hotel can look for one that offers free breakfast to save a few dollars. It also doesn’t hurt to reach out to a school’s admissions office and check if they have any discounts available on hotel accommodations.
- Visit multiple schools on one trip. It may take some extra planning, but lining up a few schools in the same region can save time and money.
- Pick the right time to visit. It’s smart to visit schools when there are actually students on campus, but make sure it’s not during homecoming weekend or a big game. Popular events will boost the price of hotels and flights.
- Take a group college tour. There are services, such as Campus Visit Experts and College Visits, that plan tours of multiple universities in several different regions. They could be a good fit for families’ budgets.
- Try a virtual visit. Though virtual visits can’t and shouldn’t replace in-person visits, they can potentially help recruits cross a school off their list, which could save a nice chunk of change in the long run.