#023 College Visit Tips from the College Spy


Today, Michelle McAnaney, “The College Spy,” and an independent educational consultant, talks about making the most of your prospective college student’s campus visit. She visits over 40 campuses each year doing in-depth reconnaissance so that she can pass on that knowledge and help students before, during, and after their college tour. 


There are so many options when it comes to colleges. Planning out your tours and trips when your student is making a decision will help you put each one in perspective and collect valuable information. Michelle is an expert when it comes to learning critical information about a school in just one college visit. With her years of experience and insight, her advice will provide you with the framework for enjoying a successful trip to your teen’s perspective universities.

There are four key “fits” you’ll want to ensure feel right when you and your teen are checking out prospective campuses. These tips from the College Spy will help you better understand each university you’re visiting, including its strengths, weaknesses, and environment. What’s more, Michelle’s insider tips can help you make the most of your day on campus, going beyond the guided tour.

Your teen isn’t just going to college for education. They’ll also be making friends, expanding their socio-political horizons, and living every day there. Ensuring they’ll be comfortable for the long haul is crucial to their success.

If you or someone you know has a teen soon entering college, be sure to listen to today’s episode that’ll walk you through all the steps to having a great campus visit. 

While summer may not be the perfect time to visit a campus, there is much you can do to prepare for upcoming trips. Set you and your teen up for success by getting a jump on your college planning. After all, one of Michelle’s biggest tips is not to wait too long because it can put you and your teen under a lot of stress.

Check out more at thecollegespy.com. You can also find her on Twitter and through her Facebook page and groups and Instagram, which are all @thecollegespy.


  • What insights Michelle gains by being on 40 campuses a year
  • What to do before and after you visit to be sure you make the most of your time
  • In addition to the obvious, Michelle’s tips for spying on colleges

Meet Our Guest

Michelle McAnaney is the founder of The College Spy, a full service independent educational consulting firm that assists students and families across the US and internationally with the college selection and application process. Prior to founding The College Spy, Michelle was a counselor and educator for more than 15 years, including serving as the Director of Guidance at two high schools, an adjunct college professor and a GED tutor. Michelle holds a master’s degree in school counseling and a bachelor’s degree in human development. She completed UC Irvine’s certificate program in educational consulting and is a MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) Certified Practitioner and a NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner. Michelle visits over 40 colleges each year so that she has first-hand knowledge of the colleges and universities her clients will be considering. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Listen on…the Flourish Site, Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon Music, Stitcher, or your favorite platform. 

“College & Career Clarity with Lisa is so helpful!”  ← Is that you? If so, please consider rating and reviewing my show so I can resource more families and eliminate overwhelm. Thank you!!

Links mentioned in this episode

Launch College & Career Clarity Course

Launch College and Career Clarity Facebook Community

The College Spy Website

Michelle on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter


[3:57] Our “College Spy” delivers her first piece of crucial advice for prospective students and families.

[6:28] How far in advance do students need to plan their trips?

[7:20] Summer visits can be a mixed bag. A populated campus can give you a better view of what life is like during the school year.

[8:44] Michelle shares the other crucial must-haves of a college visit beyond scheduling a guided tour.

[10:30] Work with our admissions counselor to see what services or experiences the colleges offer and what they can accommodate.

[12:40] What is the right age to start looking at prospective campuses? What can you do for students of certain ages to make the trip successful and memorable?

[15:20] Meeting your student where they are, and then see what else you can do with it.

[16:20] Starting earlier and being prepared can help prospective students avoid stress and enjoy smoother transitions.

[17:15] research is your friend. One small upside to the pandemic is more virtual resources to capitalize on, including campus and student-produced content.

[19:53] Support your students through every step. Make it a family event.

[22:20] Campus tour best practices- keep it simple and give yourself the right amount of time to take it all in.

[24:25] Talking to students can offer a good perspective. They’ll let you know why they chose this school over others.

[25:30] Whispering to the tour guide- four key questions can open up your tour guide and get you unscripted answers.

Access the episode transcript here.