[i]by Lisa Lavelle[i/]

We're starting to plan college visits for our high school children. They'd like to play soccer. What advance work should they be doing ahead of arriving on a campus?
For many high schoolers, campus visits are essential to making the right college connection.

Some student-athletes receive letters of interest from college coaches or invitations to make "official campus visits." Others might be taking an "unofficial" campus visit. Either way -- always be prepared.

Here are a few tips to help everyone make the most of their campus visits:

• Start by creating a personal player resume/profile -- and think of this like you were applying for a job.

• Contact admissions and schedule your campus tour.

• Most universities will interview you -- and they will ask questions -- so dress neatly and be prepared

• While on campus -- check out the library, dorm rooms, student center -- and pick up campus newspapers along with area community papers to see what's going on!

• Read the school mission, vision and values. You can impress admissions if you are prepared and ask questions about admissions, including early admissions.

• Find out if your test scores and standings will allow them to award you academic scholarships and or merit money. If you don't ask, you will never know.

• Be sure to always check out the alumni pages -- you just might be surprised who attended the college you are visiting!

• Check out the dean of the academic departments that interest you. If you have time and if it's possible, sit in on a lecture and learn how the class is taught.

Never just show up. Always make an appointment with the athletic department/soccer coach/staff. Be sure to send your player resume/profile in advance if you are making an unofficial campus visit, and let them know the day/date/time you will be on campus and coordinate this with the admissions office, too. This will keep you on track and the school in the know -- besides it shows you have done your homework and are ready to explore all the aspects the school has to offer you.

Next -- for your meeting with the coaching staff -- read the coach's bio and always check out the current roster of players and size yourself up.

For parents. You have questions to ask and you deserve answers. Consider asking about mandatory study hall for soccer players. I am sure your child will not think to ask this one. You should also ask about tutors for athletes, and campus security. You will want to know your child is safe at night and what the ramifications are when rules are broken.

Follow up is essential. Always take a minute to send a personal thank-you note!