Spring break has traditionally been a time for high school students to visit colleges, walking around campuses, participating in student-led tours, and even sitting in on classes. In the midst of the pandemic, however, most of these options are no longer viable. Without the opportunity to explore campuses, how can students figure out which colleges are the best fit for them? Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best opportunities for students looking to tour colleges from a (social) distance.
FIT IS KEY: SOCIALLY DISTANT COLLEGE VISITS
Virtual Tours: Most colleges are now offering virtual tours for students who are no longer able to visit in person. Students, for example, can tour classrooms and libraries of the University of Pennsylvania, attend a virtual information session at Middlebury, or engage with an interactive map of NYU. YouVisit offers students the opportunity to explore over 600 campuses, making it a great starting point for students considering a variety of schools. CampusTours also offers tours of more than 1,800 U.S. colleges, as well as schools in Canada, the UK, China, and France.
Webinars: In addition to virtual tours, many colleges are now offering live webinars so that students can learn more about the school and ask questions of admissions officers, financial aid officers, and current students. Pomona, for example, hosts a series of monthly webinars for prospective students, while Notre Dame offers a library of past webcasts, in addition to opportunities for live engagement. The best way to stay apprised to upcoming webinars is to register for the mailing lists at colleges that interest you. Most schools will send out announcements about upcoming webinars a week or two in advance.
College Websites: While virtual tours and webinars can give you a good overview of a school, it’s also important to do some independent research on schools that intrigue you. Take some time to review the pages of departments of interest to see which classes are being offered and what topics professors are researching. Check out the clubs, research opportunities, and fellowship programs available to undergraduate students. If you hope to study abroad, look at the opportunities for travel that the college offers and the locations you might visit. If there are certain facets of the college experience that you know will be important to you, take some time to study the ways you might explore them at particular schools!
Reach Out to Faculty: If there’s a professor whose work especially intrigues you, don’t be afraid to reach out to him or her. Not every professor will be able to respond to prospective students, but some will share information on upcoming courses, research opportunities, ways to learn more about the department, etc. Conversing with a professor at a school that interests you will not only give you a chance to learn more about that institution, but it will also give you a connection in your preferred department, should you enroll there.
Read Reviews: Websites like Niche offer people an opportunity to share reviews of and feedback on schools, which can be helpful to students looking for insights into a particular college. Personal reviews from friends or family are often even more helpful, as these people will understand your particular goals and interests. If a friend attends a school that intrigues you, reach out to ask if you can discuss his or her college experience!