Mr. Obama and his large entourage have not tagged along. On some trips, even Michelle Obama has stayed behind, letting family friends show her daughter around. Students have still angled for selfies and Snapchats when they recognize Malia, but a low-key search process is most likely what the White House is aiming for, said Lisa Caputo, the press secretary to Hillary Rodham Clinton when the first daughter, Chelsea (Stanford ’01), was looking for colleges in the 1990s.
“You want to have as informed a visit as possible, just like anyone else who is a college applicant,” Ms. Caputo said. “You want to let them get a feel — what’s the vibe on campus — without being followed by a whole swarm of people.”