College Tips - Visiting Campuses Remotely
In the wake of COVID-19 and schools shutting down, the opportunities to visit campuses are limited. Many high schoolers' plans to explore college campuses over Spring Break are now cancelled. It is still important to experience campus and school communities as best you can. So how do you tour campuses while remaining remote? Luckily, in today's world, technology is at the forefront of many innovative opportunities. Let's learn how we can best utilize the technology we have at our fingertips as we navigate the college search and application process a bit differently.
Some colleges and universities actually offer virtual campus tours. Institutions like Hanover College in Indiana afford prospective students and families the opportunity to participate in a 360-degree campus tour where they can walk through the campus with virtual tour guides throughout the experience. This gives you a thorough view of campus as a whole, but also lets students select areas of interest to explore at a deeper level. Virtual tours take different shapes depending on the school, but the feeling of being on campus and "walking" through the halls of your potential-future school is helpful when building a college list. Campustours.com allows you to search for specific schools that may offer a type of virtual tour, so this is a great place to start.
Not every school, however, has a snazzy virtual tour set up for students to explore. This does not mean you can't essentially design your own. Websites are full of pictures and information to give you a sense of the campus community and facilities. Explore the dining plans, check out videos and photos posted to the school's social media pages, research the athletic and arts programs. Focus on things that interest you and questions you personally have. Be sure to join a Facebook group set up by the Admission department. Here, you will have the opportunity to connect with other prospective students, as well as current students and admission staff who are able to answer your questions.
Virtual Face-to-Face Connection
Oftentimes, schools will host virtual information sessions, or even interviews. This is great because it gives you the opportunity to speak with and hear from a real person. While they may not be on campus, they still have the answers and experience you are looking for, so take advantage of these as they arise. These may be individual sessions, or broader group meetings. Feel free to participate in as many as you'd like as you get to know each school and formulate your list. This will also demonstrate your interest in the school, which is often tracked throughout the admission process.
While virtual tours are accessible and open to all, there are still some elements to consider before diving head first into them.
You still want to ensure you have done all proper research leading up to your virtual interactions. Just as you would research a school prior to visiting its campus, be sure you've put in the time to learn about the school prior to a virtual experience. Your virtual tour should not be the first element of your school discovery. The tour should supplement any prior information you have gained, helping you determine if the school is a good fit for you or not. This is especially true if you anticipate any face-to-face interactions. Be prepared with questions and feedback, should the time arise.
We know technology does not always cooperate and glitches will arise. Be prepared for this and do not let it completely unravel your experience. Control what you can by ensuring you have a strong Wifi connection and the proper applications to load any tour or virtual meeting in which you plan to participate.
Don't forget to utilize the same tools you would use on a regular campus tour. Take notes, be aware of things that stand out to you in both positive and negative ways, compile any questions you have remaining once the tour is complete. I encourage my clients to use the same form I provide for on-campus tours so it is easier to compare your list of schools. Pull a family member or two into the session with you. Just as they attend on-campus tours with you, you will want their input for the virtual experience as well. Don't forget to note which schools you would like to explore further in person when the time comes.
This is where the combination of opportunities (virtual tour, virtual information sessions, Facebook chats, etc) come into play. It's great to participate in a campus walk-through online, but you definitely won't experience the personal touch you would on a real tour. So make an effort to connect with a real-life human if this is important to you. That extra element will give you a stronger sense of the school community and where you might fit within it.
As always, we are here to help! While virtual tours are not necessarily new, the complete shift to them is. Should you need any guidance throughout this process, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Embark Education is hosting a virtual workshop next Friday, March 27 for any curious high school students embarking on their college search journey. Sign up today to reserve your spot!