At this point, we all have pandemic fatigue and want to get out and do more. If you’re thinking about visiting colleges over the next few weeks, I strongly suggest that you visit that school’s admissions page on their website to learn about their visitation protocols and procedures. Yes, some schools are welcoming prospective and accepted families on campus but many are not. Know what you can do and cannot do before you jump in the car.
Will a self-guided tour “count” as demonstrated interest?
Absolutely. There are ways to convey to a college that your child took the initiative to “see” as much as possible despite some of the Covid restrictions. College is a big decision and it’s important that students and parents are as familiar as possible with the academics, activities and admissions requirements of a school. I do encourage you and your parents to do driving trips to a few schools and check out the neighboring town/city and possibly do a self-guided tour.
Are the virtual tours the same as on-campus visits?
At this point, yes, they are. We have all adapted to our digital world and colleges have made huge strides in sharing their information and offering tours digitally.
Always check for the 3As: Academics, Activities, and Admission Requirements
Look at curriculum requirements within the course catalog and co-curricular opportunities for your prospective major. Does the curriculum fit your child’s goals? Do the classes make sense for you? What kinds of jobs do students get?
What do students do for fun? Are there fraternities and sororities? Are students engaged artistically and/or athletically? How do the students integrate with the neighboring town or city?
Will the school be test-optional next year? What are the new criteria the admissions office is looking for in applicants given the Covid classes of 2020 and 2021? Will the supplemental essays change for the class of 2022?
Also, look for announcements for organized virtual tours and online chats from the colleges. Reach out to your regional admission representatives via phone or email to inquire about their plans, especially if you know there's no way you can visit. Ask for their recommendations on how best to experience the college virtually or see if they can connect you with a student through Zoom or FaceTime. This is a great (and easy) way to show demonstrated interest.
Here are two virtual visit websites that I recommend.
I want you to get excited. Your kid has worked hard to get to this point and it’s important to put in the time and research necessary to compile a balanced list of schools. Visiting colleges, in whatever capacity, is critical. Do it!
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