The Covid-19 pandemic has halted most in-person college tours, but there are still so many ways to learn what a college has to offer. In fact, it’s never been easier to research from home. Here are six ways to virtually visit a college and find out if it’s the right fit for you:
1. College Tours from the Admissions Website
Start with the college’s admissions website, which will offer information on how the school is running their virtual hub. You might want to watch one of their pre-recorded tours or explore the campus through a virtual self-guided option. Or, register ahead of time and join a live, student-led tour through Zoom. Check out how Lehigh has organized its admissions website to show the impressive range of offerings for prospective students. There’s truly something for everyone!
2. Information Sessions
Attending an information session is another great way to learn about a school and its admissions process. Some schools, like NYU, offer live sessions, which provide an opportunity to interact with admissions officers or student ambassadors, and may require registration. Others have pre-recorded information sessions that you can watch on your own time, like University of Michigan. Either way, you’ll get one step closer to figuring out if you and this school are a good match!
3. Admissions Events
Each fall, college campuses typically open their doors for special admissions events. Although these events are no longer in person, colleges are now offering even more ways to interact than ever before. Pay close attention to the special events section of their admissions websites, as many schools offer college- and program-specific sessions or regional sessions led by your regional admissions officer. Some colleges and universities are also welcoming prospective students through virtual platforms for special events like diversity weekends, including Tufts’ Virtual Voices of Tufts Diversity Experience, or campus preview days, such as University of Miami’s Preview the U.
4. Virtual Talks with Professors and Students
Faculty and students can offer a valuable additional perspective on a college, and help you learn more about the school’s academics and culture. Identify faculty in your academic areas of interest and email them to request a Zoom chat. You can then ask about the unique approach of their department, research they are conducting, and observations about the culture of the school. Chatting with current students or recent alums can offer insight into their academic paths and life outside of the classroom. Many schools are offering these opportunities through their Admissions website, like Barnard’s “Ask a Student” meetings. Don’t be shy! Set up plenty of Zoom meetings and get the information you’re looking for. And take notes, so that you can incorporate this information into your college essays.
5. Third Party Organizations
In light of the pandemic, there has been an enormous outpouring of virtual resources from third-party organizations. Some of our favorites are CampusReel, College Scoops, YOUniversityTV, and YouVisit. These sites, and countless others, offer a variety of different approaches to the college search with detailed video content and ways to hear from actual students at the schools. In addition, websites such as Niche offer student “grades” of colleges in areas such as academics, athletics, and campus.
6. Social Media
Don’t underestimate the power of Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Use these platforms to learn about what life on campus is really like. Make sure to not only follow the main college account, but also their admissions page and even any clubs you might be interested in joining. You’ll learn a lot from “listening” to these online conversations. You’ll also be alerted to any new admissions events as they are scheduled and advertised.
To learn more, register for our presentation, How to Research Colleges During Covid and Write a Compelling Match Essay, on Wednesday, September 9th at 6 pm EST.