The coronavirus pandemic has made choosing a college this year anything but normal. High school juniors and seniors will likely not be able to visit college campuses or attend admitted student events before having to choose a school. While colleges are doing their best to compensate for these changes, like running virtual admitted student events, we know many students were relying upon on-campus visits to make their college choice. So, we’ve put together a list of ways to get a feel for different schools without visiting!
While a lot of our tips require students to be proactive, reach out to people, and advocate for themselves, we hope that students remember that admissions officers WANT you to come to their school (after all, they accepted you!). This unprecedented time is tough on them, too. Lots of schools rely on admitted students events and campus visits to get prospective students to enroll. As long as you’re reaching out in a respectful and reasonable manner, your questions and concerns will be met positively by admissions. We promise!
1. Get in contact with a current student (or students)
Talking to a current student is a really great way to get a feel for the school. To get the most authentic experience, try reaching out to a student on your own, instead of through the admissions office. Maybe you know a student from your high school or hometown who is enrolled at the college. If not, try LinkedIn or Facebook and search for students whose majors or interests are similar to your own. Most current students will be happy to take a few minutes out of their day for a phone call or email exchange.
2. Take a virtual campus tour
Just because you can’t step foot on campus, doesn’t mean you can’t see the university. Most schools offer virtual tours so you’ll be able to see what kind of facilities you’ll have available to you. Some schools’ virtual tours will be less comprehensive than others. If you feel like something is missing that you really want to see, ask the admissions office or a current student for a picture or video.
3. Take advantage of any digital offerings
Many schools are working to set up online spaces where you can talk to admissions officers online, current students, and other prospective students about the school. Schools are also offering digital mock classes. These offer great opportunities to get a feel for the school. If there is a panel or class going on that you can’t attend live but wish to learn from, don’t be afraid to ask for a recording!
4. Look at how they’ve reacted to current events
When choosing a college, take a look at how universities responded to the current situation. Are they making resources available to prospective students? Did they provide assistance to current students who had to move out of dorms on short notice? How are they adapting to online classes and have they changed their grading policies?
Looking at how schools reacted to the pandemic and how current students feel about the administrators’ actions can provide good insight into the relationship between students and administration.
5. Take location into consideration
Ok, so you can’t visit. That doesn’t mean you have to go in blind. Do some research on the surrounding area and figure out if it’s somewhere you’d want to spend 4 years. Is the school in or close to a big city for potential internship opportunities? Does it have a warm or cold climate, and is that something you care about? Do current students seem to get involved in the surrounding community?
Choosing a college is difficult, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only complicated the process for many high school seniors. We hope the tips above help you narrow down your options! Best of luck.
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