Frequently Asked Questions
- Who can participate?
- Who are the adult chaperones?
- What does the program fee cover?
- Is the program fee worth it?
- What types of hotels are included?
- What quality of motor coach is used?
- What airlines are used?
- What are the rooming arrangements?
- Where do students eat meals?
- What happens during the evening free time?
- Do students have an evening curfew?
- Can a student arrive late or depart early/late?
- Can a student return to a different city?
- Can students meet with friends or family?
- Can students meet with a coach or department?
“I still keep in contact with Bill and make sure to say hi whenever his tours visit campus.”
Johns Hopkins University
Marymount High School, Los Angeles, California
“Bill Rubin’s TCA college tours bring extensive knowledge, experience, and high energy to tailor a tour that goes beyond campus information sessions and tours.”
Tania Castro Bradt
Former Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Admission
“I never thought visiting colleges could be so fun.”
Ransom Everglades School, Miami, Florida
1. Who can participate?
Sophomore and junior students at participating high schools are eligible to join a TCA college tour program. In certain circumstances, sophomore and junior students from other high schools also may be welcome to join a TCA college tour program.
Freshman students are too young to benefit from our tour programs. Senior students are better served in visiting specific campuses of interest rather than spending money on the case study approach offered with our college tour programs.
Most tours include students from multiple participating high schools. Other tours include students from only a single participating high school. Participating high schools can elect to allow students from other high schools to participate on a case by case basis.
2. Who are the adult chaperones?
All of our adult chaperones are college counselors at participating high schools or other peer high schools. All chaperones therefore have college counseling experience and supervision experience with high school students. We guarantee 1 chaperone for every 15 students; however, most of our tours have 1 chaperone for every 10-12 students.
3. What does the program fee cover?
In most circumstances, our program fee covers the cost of round trip airfare, deluxe hotel accommodations (quadruple occupancy), motor coach and professional driver, college selection workshops and seminars, college selection materials, and the TCA Tour Leader and adult chaperones. Meals and food are not included.
4. Is the program fee worth it?
Yes, it’s worth it. Our program fee typically is far less than that of schools that offer their own college tours. It also is much less expensive than doing your own college tour with just a parent and student, rental car, hotels, and airfare. Also, our tours visit more campuses than you could visit on your own. Finally, we provide extensive college counseling as part of the college tour.
“The College Authority trips teach the students so much. The entire trip is beautifully organized.”
Director of College Counseling
Polytechnic School, Pasadena, California
“There’s something to say about the fact that my friends and I still talk about this trip!”
U.S. Naval Academy & Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
5. What types of hotels are included?
We typically stay in deluxe 3 or 4 star hotel accommodations, most often associated with the bigger hotel chains like Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, Marriott, Renaissance, Four Points, Courtyard, Hilton, etc. We prefer to stay in the downtown or central areas of the cities and towns that we visit, allowing students to more safely and easily enjoy what the cities and towns have to offer.
6. What quality of motor coach is used?
7. What airlines are used?
We use flights on major airlines that allow the most direct routing possible for our tour programs. Whenever possible, we opt for nonstop flights, assuming space and price are appropriate for our larger student groups. When flight connections cannot be avoided, we opt for longer connection/layover times in order to permit safe and reliable transfers between flights.
8. What are the rooming arrangements?
Students can indicate roommate preferences on their Registration Contract at the time of registration. We typically house students with quadruple occupancy, meaning there will be 4 students per room, with 2 students per double bed and 2 double beds in each room. Students have the option on the Registration Contract to pay a Single Upgrade Fee, thereby guaranteeing his or her own double bed.
“The College Authority was the most important part of my college search.”
Webb Schools, Claremont, California
“What was, and still is, most impressive to me was the extent of Bill’s knowledge of the college/university landscape and his ability to get to know the students on his tours so well within such a short amount of time.”
Polytechnic School, Pasadena, California
“We were so happy with the tour and outcome for our first daughter that we used them again for our second daughter.”
Parent, Ransom Everglades School, Miami, Florida
Students at University of Pennsylvania and Brown University
9. What is included on a campus visit?
A typical campus visit includes a 1 hour campus tour, led by current college students, and a 30-45 minute information session, led by an admission officer at that college. Often, the admission officer leading the session is the area officer responsible for reading applications from our participating schools.
For our first or second campus visits of the day, we also will have lunch on or near campus for 1-2 hours on average.
A TCA College Tour is designed for students to learn what they like and dislike in order to better decide where to APPLY for college; it is not about deciding where to ENROLL for college. As such, we sacrifice depth of visit in order to allow breadth of visits, allowing our students to learn about many different campuses.
10. What are the college selection workshops and seminars?
We conduct debrief workshops for every visited campus on the coach as we travel between campuses. Sometimes, we debrief after each visit; sometimes we wait until the end of the day to debrief the visits together. These debrief sessions allow for a comparison and contrast between different tour guides and allow a chance to answer questions and correct any mistaken impressions or information.
We also conduct seminars and Q&A sessions on the coach on various ancillary college counseling topics that impact the college selection process. Examples include discussions of the college admission process, factors influencing college admission, college fit, the value of liberal arts education, liberal arts versus pre-professional education, pre-medical education, pre-law education, pre-business education, major selection, double majors versus single majors, academic rigor versus selectivity, college athletics, Greek life, financial aid, diversity, differences between engineering majors, differences between science majors, creating your own major, study abroad, open curricula versus core curricula versus distribution requirements, etc. These discussions help students recognize factors that may be driving them toward or away from certain campuses.
About halfway through our tour itinerary, we open up discussion to include colleges and universities of interest that are not included on our itinerary. These campuses can be located anywhere in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The Tour Leader will compare and contrast colleges of interest with those already visited on our tour itinerary and with those from the areas already familiar to students. These discussions help students in expanding and focusing their college lists.
11. How many campus visits are there?
A typical day includes 2 or 3 campus visits. We try to avoid consecutive days with 3 college visits. We only offer 3 visits in a day when campuses are geographically located to easily permit the 3rd visit, and only when the 3rd campus is important for our case study of campus environments.
12. What do “and/or” and “or” signify on my college tour itinerary?
In some instances, we can offer a choice for students on our college tour itineraries. We offer such choices only when the geography and/or case study approach call for them. Without knowing student interest or campus availability in advance, we list such campus choices as “and/or” and “or” on our itineraries.
Any “and/or” choice signifies that the two (2) campuses are located very close geographically to each other, permitting the possibility of concurrent visits at both campuses. We ask students in advance for their preferences, and we either visit 1 campus together or split the group between the 2 campuses–depending on the student preferences. When in doubt, we are most likely to choose the first campus listed.
Any “or” choice signifies that the two (2) campuses are located nowhere near each other, but with a preference for the first campus listed. This choice will be made based on the speculated interests of the student group. When in doubt, we are most likely to choose the first campus listed.
Ultimately, these choices make little difference to the case study approach on which our tour programs are based. As long as our tours include a widely varying range of possible campus environments, we know the tours will be effective in helping students realize what they really like and dislike. That will be true regardless of any of the choices that might be available on your college tour itinerary.
“Visiting colleges with TCA makes my students much more sophisticated consumers of college information.”
Director of College Counseling
Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, New Mexico
“I have known Bill Rubin for over a decade and can assure you that his TCA tours are among the very best in the business.”
Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions
“I was encouraged to advocate for myself and look beyond the brand of a school.”
Wake Forest University
San Domenico School, San Anselm, California
13. Where do students eat meals?
Students typically eat breakfast in and around the hotels where we stay. Most students save money by eating breakfast outside of our hotels at nearby restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, etc.
Students typically eat lunch at the end of our first campus visit or at the beginning of our second campus visit each day. Lunches usually are at restaurants or dining facilities on or around those campuses.
14. What happens during the evening free time?
Typically, we offer unsupervised evening free time for our students to enjoy their evenings. After reaching our hotels and checking in, students are given free time to explore the area around our hotel in whatever city or town we are located. It is during this evening free time when students eat dinner.
Students are required to be in minimum groups of 3 persons for evening free time. As our hotels are almost always located in the downtown and/or central areas of the cities and towns in which we stay, students never have to venture far to enjoy themselves and to find restaurants of interest.
15. Do students have an evening curfew?
YES. Students are given a curfew time to be back at the hotel and/or back in their hotel rooms at the end of evening free time. This curfew time must be honored by every student with no exceptions. The curfew time varies between cities depending on our arrival time, but the most common curfew time is between 10:00-11:00 pm. Adult chaperones and/or the Tour Leader conduct checks of every hotel room each night to ensure that all students are safely returned.
Students also are given a curfew time to have their bags loaded on the motor coach and to be ready to depart every morning. This curfew time must be respected by every student with no exceptions, as well. This ensures our safe and timely arrival at all of our campus stops.
“The College Authority is the authority on college tours. Bill Rubin is terrific.”
Gil J. Villanueva
Associate Vice President and Dean of Admission
University of Richmond
“I am honestly a little afraid to imagine where I would be if I hadn’t taken The College Authority tour!”
Athenian School, Danville, California
16. Can a student arrive late or depart early/late?
YES. The College Authority has no programmatic reason why a student cannot arrive late or depart early or late on a tour. However, group airfare rules preclude any deviations for a student’s airline ticket. If any students want to change their arrival or return dates for a tour, they will forfeit part or all of the group airfare ticket.
Any student wanting to return early or late from a tour will be unable to use the group ticket return flight; that student will forfeit the return flight from the group airfare and will need to purchase his or her own return ticket. Students/parents are advised to contact The College Authority for guidance on when to arrange early departures. Students/parents are free to purchase their own return flight for later departure based on whatever circumstances are appropriate.
Any student wanting to arrive later for a tour will be unable to use the group airfare ticket at all; that student will forfeit the entire group airfare for both the departure and return flights and need to purchase airline tickets for both late arrival and for the return with the group. An airline credit of $250 is offered in such circumstances. Students/parents are advised to contact The College Authority for guidance on when to arrange such late arrival flights.
17. Can a student return to a different city?
YES. The College Authority has no programmatic reason why a student cannot return to a different city/airport on a tour.
HOWEVER, group airfare rules preclude any deviations for a student’s group airline ticket. Therefore, if any students want to change the group airline ticket outbound or return flights for any reason, they will forfeit part or all of their group airfare ticket.
Any students wishing to return to a different city/airport than is provided in the group airline tickets will forfeit the return flights of their group airline tickets and therefore must purchase their own return airline tickets as appropriate. No refunds are provided in such circumstances. Students/parents are advised to contact The College Authority for guidance on arranging such different return flights. We advise students to schedule such return flights to depart after the regular group return flight so that they are as safely accommodated as possible.
18. Can students meet with friends or family?
YES. Parents can give permission for students to meet with friends and family members during evening free time. Such permission is provided on the Parent Permission Form. Students with permission can meet with friends and family only during evening free time.
19. Can students meet with a coach or department?
NO. Unfortunately, the college tour is a group activity and does not permit individual activities apart from the scheduled group activities during our campus visits. Therefore, individual meetings with coaches or departments are not permitted.
“Bill is not only personable and enthusiastic but is insanely knowledgeable about literally every college and university.”
Archer School for Girls, Los Angeles, California
20. Is any financial aid available?
The College Authority offers a limited amount of financial aid for each of our college tour programs. Priority for financial aid is given to students from the school(s) sending the most students for each tour.
To be eligible for aid on our college tours, a student must receive financial aid towards tuition from his or her high school. When registering for a college tour, a student requesting aid should attach a separate sheet indicating the formal request for financial aid, as well as a documented letter from the high school financial aid or college counseling office confirming the percentage of tuition aid that student receives. If aid is granted, it will be no more than the same perentage as the tuition aid received from the school.
Registrants will be notified within 2-4 weeks of the registration deadline of the financial aid decision. If aid is granted, we will process the registration and charge the deposit and/or the appropriate program fee balance. If aid is not granted, the student will not be charged and still will have the opportunity to pay the deposit or to cancel the registration.
“Bill Rubin takes care of everything. We will use The College Authority again and again and again.”
Director of College Counseling
San Domenico School, San Anselm, California
21. Can I register late for a college tour?
YES. We do accept late registrations unless otherwise noted. All late registrations (including attached registration contracts with credit card payment and parent permission forms) must be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “LATE REGISTRATION (YOUR SCHOOL NAME & TOUR DEPARTURE DATE)” in the email subject line and the student first and last name, high school name, college tour name, and college tour departure date in the email body. Late registrations must include full payment by credit card. We do not accept late registrations with payment by check.
We will not research whether we can add late students until we have received their completed late registration forms with credit card payment. If we can add a late registrant, we will notify you via email and charge your credit card; if we cannot add a late registrant, we will notify you via email, and your credit card will not be charged. Please allow up to 10 business days for email notification about the status of late registrations.
“My college tour with The College Authority went way beyond my expectations.”
University of Southern California
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, San Juan Capistrano, California
22. What are the advantages of visiting campuses on a TCA college tour?
- Students visit campuses they otherwise would not consider, allowing for the chance to be pleasantly surprised. This happens to every student on every tour.
- Students can visit more campuses, allowing for more breadth in the college search.
- Our campus visits typically enjoy our own campus tours and information sessions, rather than joining the regular and much larger tours and sessions.
- Our campus tours typically are divided between 2-3 tour guides for just our group, allowing for a much more in-depth experience with current students. That also allows us to compare and contrast multiple tour guide experiences during our debrief sessions.
- Our programs are significantly less expensive than traveling on your own as a family.
- Our programs allow more campus visits than visiting on your own as a family.
- Our debrief workshops and seminar sessions allow students to gain substantial college counseling foundations, making our students far more sophisticated about their college searches. This proves invaluable later for students as they continue with the college counseling process at their schools.
- Our comparison/contrast sessions on colleges beyond our itineraries allow students to learn far more about far more colleges and universities beyond the scope of our tour itinerary. This saves students and families even more money and allows for maximum exposure to colleges and universities.
- Our students have fun! We want our students to learn a lot, but we also want our students to enjoy themselves.
- We have only glowing reviews from our former students, many of whom still keep in touch with us and even serve as our campus tour guides for our tours in the future. You can see testimonials from our former students HERE and testimonials from college counselors HERE.