Typically, May and June are times when high school students have to think seriously about their choice of colleges and make a decision about where they want to go. Unfortunately, this year has been anything but “typical.”
According to NPR, among other sources, there is still a lot of uncertainty on campuses around the world right now. “A lot of different ideas are being floated. The California State University system announced they are planning to be virtual in the fall. Others have said they’ll be in-person, but with shorter three-week block schedules, freshman-only campuses or with dorm rooms converted to be single occupancy. Stanford even floated the idea of hosting lectures outside in big tents. No idea is off the table.”
Choosing which college to attend is no easy task without a pandemic preventing in-person campus visits, let alone in the middle of one. It’s important to realize that you can still do a lot of research online and coordinate with campuses virtually during this time. In this case, it really is as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Utilize the School Websites
In 2020, most colleges and universities have in-depth websites, with a lot of detailed information. You can learn about different departments and what classes are available in addition to getting a general impression of life at that school and in that community.
See for yourself what the campus is like with virtual tours, which are increasingly featured on many college and university websites, especially amidst concerns of Coronavirus on college campuses. Virtual tours allow you to visit classrooms, offices, grounds, student residence halls, dining areas, and even sports stadiums.
Pro tip: If a school you’re interested in doesn’t have a virtual tour available through their website, you can always use Google Maps and street view to take a stroll around campus for yourself.
2. Schedule a Virtual Meet-up with an Admissions Counselor or Professor
Many professors and admissions counselors should be available to meet with you virtually at this time. This will give you a chance to reach out to them, somewhat in-person, to get a feel for what their programs are like and whether you’d be a good fit. Remember, they’re courting YOU.
This is a great time to ask any questions you may have about the fields that interest you, what classes are available to incoming first-years, what student housing is like, or what other resources they may have.
Pro tip: It’s always a good idea to keep a list of possible questions you may have, since it’s easy to forget when the video is turned on.
3. Seek out Current Students at Schools of Interest
Try to seek out your peers and find out what they have to say about campus life. Social media, blogs, podcasts, student-run media like newspapers are all good places to see how student life actually looks on campus. Many colleges even have student ambassadors whose job it is to field questions for incoming students. Those are the people who are going to be more likely to tell you if the cafeteria food is gross or whether there is anything fun to do on weekends.
Pro tip: If there’s a student organization or club you’re interested in, reach out to them and see what they can tell you, how they operate, and what their opinion is about campus life in general.