Sep 11, 2015

Grandparents find new roles in the college admissions process

Prospective applicant on tour!

At least one college tour company is seeing a new trend in grandparental involvement in the college admissions process. At Campanile College Tours, based in San Mateo, California, staff has become accustomed to working with retired grandparents who have been assigned the responsibility for arranging, supervising, and otherwise chaperoning college tours.

And it makes sense.  Parents are busy with jobs, can’t get extended time off, or they need to be home with younger children.  Grandparents also welcome the opportunity to spend a little one-on-one time with grandchildren and have a good excuse to explore other parts of the country, even if in the context of touring campuses.

“But grandparents aren’t from a generation when they toured colleges themselves,” said Elizabeth Stone, Campanile’s executive director.  “They sometimes need a little support and are happy to engage a service to help with all the logistics.”

It’s really not all that different from signing up with a company specializing in all-inclusive vacations, which are very popular with senior citizens or others who want a more customized travel experience.

“Our tour director, Barbi Lazarow, takes care of plane tickets, train tickets, hotels near campus,” explained Stone.  “We also arrange for class observations, information session, meetings with academic advisers—even theater tickets to evening performances.”

The Nappo family of Millbrae, California, worked with Campanile for a series of campus visits with their grandson, Kevin.  The company took care of every detail for both west coast and east coast tours.  According to Barbara Nappo, “It was nice to have a schedule for Kevin and also one for me, as a grandparent.”

Alex Mitchell, of Campus Sherpa, a student-run company that arranges personalized campus visits for students and families, appreciates the value of having grandparents involved college tours.

“My grandfather took both of my older brothers on a 10-college tour up and down the east coast,” said Mitchell.  “He is an electrical engineer with a fascination for education.”

And the support doesn’t always end with campus tours. 

“I have several sets of grandparents who are doing the college tours with their grandchildren. They have been very involved and do substantive research on the colleges,” said Cori Dykman, who works in Annapolis, Maryland, as an independent educational consultant.  “In addition, they hired me and are paying for my services to help their grandchildren with the application process.”

With a little bit of extra time and money, grandparents are increasingly finding roles in the college admission process. And it’s a luxury many of us are looking forward to!

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