One of the many rites of passage for college-bound high school students is the college tour. Although the COVID pandemic has brought most options for on-campus tours to a grinding halt, this should not prevent high school students from continuing to ‘visit’ their many colleges of interest in ways that have been second-nature to them for most of their lives – by doing research online. Students can examine far more colleges online than they ever could in person and should take advantage of this time to examine colleges that were not even on their radar.
Here are some ways to maximize your online college tour experience: Take some time for self-reflection: Just as with any other application season, the first step on your college tour is to look inside and consider who you are and what you want from your college experience. This important self-reflection will also help you in completing your applications, making your essays resonate with authenticity and your personal truth.
Go wide and deep: Tour a wide variety of colleges but stay focused on what you want from your campus. Look at a range of private, public, large, small, urban and rural campuses that seem attractive but then, dive deeply into what they offer and how you might see yourself fitting into their ethos and character. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed, be thoughtful as you wander.
Start with the college website: After entering their .edu domain, go to the Admission Office first. Learn more about admission requirements, major offerings, testing updates, and statistics – admit rate, class sizes, and student/faculty ratio as examples. Always sign up for their mailing list. You’ll start to receive specific communications that are timely and relevant to you.
Embark on a virtual campus tour: There will be a link on the Admission website to the virtual campus tour. As you watch, have a notebook handy, a blank Google doc open or a form to complete as you ‘wander’ around the campus.
Sign up for virtual information sessions and open houses: You’ll receive invitations to attend online sessions during which you will learn a lot more about what an individual college has to offer. These may include even more specific virtual tour options. As you make notes during your tours, list questions you can send to the admission office afterward.