Because of COVID - 19, high-school juniors and seniors can't visit college campuses this spring and therefore may have a harder time picking their college. Additionally, many - who planned and studied to take their tests in the spring - were unable to get testing done. If you are feeling like your world is coming apart, don’t despair! You can still visit many colleges digitally and soon be able to re-test (we are planning a separate post on this issue.)
To ease the pain of my chickens ( I call all my students 🐤chickens ), I decided to chat with Beth Cashel, an expert college admissions consultant. Beth explained how high school students can still get a good sense of colleges and Universities on their list and visit their campuses virtually.
‼️COVID-19 affected students around the world. It is not just you‼️
[ Beth ] We need to remember that this is happening to everyone, including all college admissions people at schools. Everyone is in the same place right now, which has never happened before. There have been different national emergencies that also had affected the college admissions regionally in the previous years but not as a grander scale as COVID-19. Admission people also know that students have been significantly affected; therefore, they started to communicate with students and testing agencies to figure out the solution to this situation. The National Association for College Admission Counseling provides information from more than 1,000 colleges and universities on changes to admissions processes resulting from the pandemic. The majority of colleges already started ( you guessed it) ➡️Virtual Appointments and Virtual College Tours 💻🖥.
How to do virtual tours of colleges?🤔
First, some stats. According to some surveys,📊📉📈 80% of high school juniors and 84% of parents surveyed reported that campus visits are extremely or very important to their college selection process. It is true✅ because a college campus is a place where students spend most of their time. The majority of students admit that campuses are one of the most important areas that make them like the school.🌲🍁🌳 ♥️ This is a traditional approach, but this is an extraordinary time that requires us to adapt and pivot. Complaining is not useful, even if all your friends are outraged and ballistic. We are living in a world where wars and pandemics happen, and we need to learn how to deal with it. Wishing that life were different than it appears to be the main reason for human suffering. For that reason, it’s not helpful to think that an in-person visit is the best deciding factor. Since you are unable to complete in-person visits, what can you do instead?
Now, the good news. There are more than 1700 schools that offer virtual college tours. Colleges and students alike are now trying to adapt to the pandemic: virtual college tours have replaced in-person ones, information sessions are over Zoom. More good news: Because you are no longer required to commute, you can tour more colleges and have more appointments without spending your time. Beth Cashel says that “the access to schools in some ways is even greater than when you are in-person visits.” Later, we will discuss how you can be very systematic and methodical about choosing your future college using virtual college tours.
Where to look for virtual college tours? 🤔🧐🤓
Once you have your list of colleges, you can go to their websites and check out what additional information and resources they provide: the college admissions page will show you whether there is a virtual college tour. If not, do a page search for the virtual college tour.
Let's pretend someone is interested in Duke University. You will need to follow these easy steps to schedule a virtual tour at Duke.
Go to Duke.edu > find the undergraduate submission page > virtual visit
If you follow these simple steps, you will be able to schedule a virtual college tour.
What kind of tours do schools offer? 😮
Every school does virtual visits differently: exclusive videos, 360-degree virtual college tours, some even hook you up with a student who walks you through the school using their cell phone. Vanderbilt University in Nashville is matching high school juniors with current students for virtual coffee meetings. Some schools give the opportunity to sit in the classes and meet with faculty 📓 and even meet ‼️ college admissions people ‼️. Let’s admit it: students don’t usually have such an opportunity.
HELP! My school of choice doesn’t have a virtual college tour or has an overly polished/dated/crappy slide deck?
If a virtual college tour is not YET available for your school, don’t worry - there will likely be plenty of virtual options available. Most likely, your college is currently shooting some drone footage to add to the video;)
Beth Cashel recommends looking for virtual college tours on other websites; for example, YouVisit offers free virtual campus tours of over six hundred colleges and universities. Some others are ⭕️ Niche, College Confidential, Campus Reel⭕️.
Here is the list📢🛑⏬⏬⏬
🔵YoUniversity: Students can click on tabs such as “safest campuses,” “most diverse campuses” and “top academic colleges,”
What if I still want more?🤔
If you are an athlete 🤽🏻♂️🏊♂️🥇🏋️♀️🤸♂️ or just want to play a sport in college:
YouVisit can put students in the stands or on the playing field to get a simulated experience of being an athlete there. Also, CampusTours has a feature that lets students find sports offered at various schools. Beth also advised to use Instagram, and other social media like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Snapchat feeds. You know that this is a fantastic way to stay updated - live. Although many schools have a dull and polished look on their social media, you can follow athletic teams to get real updates and an authentic feel. Also, it is a good idea to reach out to the school and ask them what additional resources you may use. Some schools host Facebook Live Streams to answer questions.
🔺Here you can find IG links of some colleges that are nailing it on Instagram. 🔺
Connect with current students 🤓
If you have a friend or a family member who knows someone who goes to the school on your list, make sure you get a hold of that person. There is NO reason to be shy, especially when you are making such an important decision in your life.
Personally, I love connecting my current tutoring students with my former students who already took their tests, nailed them, and got accepted into the colleges of their dreams. If you are working with a seasoned tutor who has been doing test prep or many years, ask them if they know anyone at that school.
Okay, now you have a person (current student/recent grad) to talk to. How do I not make it awkward? What do I ask? We anticipated that many of you would feel this way, so here are some helpful questions that you may consider to ask.
- Why did you choose this college?
- What are the best things about the campus?
- What’s the weather like during the school year?
- Can you describe libraries/gyms/labs? How crowded/comfortable are they?
- What is it like to live at this college? Can you describe a typical weeknights/weekends?
- What can you tell me about program X? What’s the difference between X and Y?
- How available are professors for students?
- Goes the college promote student involvement in campus groups, extracurricular activities, or volunteering?
- What are the housing options?
- What are some things that you wished you knew before?
- How did your opinion about your current college change after attending it?
- What are some things you do not like about the campus?
- Are there work-study programs/part-time jobs available?
Benefits of virtual college visits?
Nobody says that in-person visits and virtual tours will be the same because they are different experiences. But there are some benefits that you may consider while being upset that you can not go and tour your dream school ‼️
🔺You can go to as many schools as you want “ virtually,” while you could go to only two schools in person in a day.
🔺You could meet the faculty.
🔺You could be more methodical and less impressionable.
🔺You could talk with admitted students.
🔺You may compare different campuses easily.
🔺You can save time!
🔺You can save money.
Beth recommends have a spreadsheet where you can keep track of all the data about your colleges. As you interview current students, make sure you ask similar questions so you can compare pluses and minuses in the future. This is just a note from me: When you are attending a college in person, many variables can affect your reaction, emotional response, etc.. Among those factors could be weather on that specific day, the college tour guide, amount of sleep you’ve had the night before, current moon cycle, attractive person in the cafeteria, pollen in the air or lack of it, how comfortable your commute, shoes, clothes are, etc. All those factors are affecting your decision - subconsciously. Those are NOT objective measures for your future decision. Someone can tell you during the tour that the city is pretty close and the city is safe, while you can do your own research and find out otherwise. Remember, the guide chose this college and they are going to be biased and many people are very affected by other people’s personal recommendations. We understand that many colleges may only offer crappy tours right now, and it’s hard to go by the dated photos and overly polished videos.
Beth explains: if you are a junior and you are disappointed😔 with your school because they do not offer an excellent virtual tour, be patient, and wait. 😌After May 1st, which is the due date for many colleges to accept or decline their acceptance, there are going to be many more opportunities provided by the colleges for juniors and rising seniors, because now universities have been spending a lot of time focusing on the students that they have just accepted and they want them to make a decision by May 1st. There has not been a lot of attention for juniors yet. But it will start happening from may through the summer, so for instance, if you checked one college and you did not like their tour, they will have a much better tour within the next month.
Here we included the links of some of the top-rated colleges that offer virtual campus tours ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️
- Columbia University Virtual Campus Tour
- Brown University Virtual Campus Tour
- Cornell University Virtual Campus Tour
- Dartmouth College Virtual Campus Tour
- Duke University Virtual Campus Tours
- Harvard University Virtual Tour Indiana University Bloomington Virtual Campus
- Tours Massachusetts Institute of Technology Virtual College Tour -
- Northwestern University Virtual Tour Princeton University Virtual Tour -
- Stanford University Photo Tour
- University of California Berkeley Online Tour
- University of California Irvine Virtual Campus Tour
- University of Chicago Virtual Tour
- University of Michigan Law School Virtual Tours
- University of Notre Dame Virtual Tour
- University of Pennsylvania Virtual Campus Tour -
- Washington University Virtual Campus Tour
- Yale College Virtual Tour
There is at least one student in the college who is a vlogger. For this reason, you should also check out Youtube because you will find out some videos from the students about the colleges; you may even find the information that will be crucial for you to make the right decision for you.💯
Cornell has a whopping collection of videos on YouTube.
‼️Here are some tips that you may find helpful while choosing the college‼️
🔹Review the college’s homepage - you may find the highlighted areas that may be interesting for you ✔️
🔹Follow their social channels
🔹Subscribe to the student newspapers ✔️
🔹Take a virtual tour ✔️
🔹View the campus using the online maps ✔️
🔹 If the college that you like do not offer the virtual tours yet, wait and make sure to check their websites frequently ✔️
When looking at schools virtually, first join the mailing lists of colleges of interest. That way, prospective students will learn about upcoming virtual programming and options via email, which is particularly crucial in this admissions cycle. Last but not least, another great tool in connecting you to information about the college is a telephone. Many institutions allow you to schedule a phone call with a college admissions counselor to learn about their admissions process. One of the ways for asking them the questions is Reddit, where you can find almost all the groups for every college. ✔️
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If you would like to watch the video version of this article, you can find the link below. ⬇️⬇️⬇️