How To Continue Your College Search During The Coronavirus
The coronavirus has put a halt to many of our everyday activities. The things we used to so freely are now no longer available to us. Schools are closed, events are canceled, and we are basically being told to stay in one place until whatever is going on is finally over. Even then, no one can really tell us when that will be. This can be nerve-wracking for people of all ages. Even the perfectly healthy can’t help but think about there various life plans that are being completely upended.
While it might not be the most important thing in the world, it is natural for any high school student to be concerned about how this national pandemic is going to impact there college search process. How do you properly research a school if you are unable to go to the campus and visit? How do you know what life will be like on a campus when all the students have gone home for the foreseeable future?
These are valid concerns that need to be addressed. Unfortuenly, nothing can truly replace the value of going on an official campus visit. We have talked in detail in past blog posts about what to look for and questions to ask as you gather all of your information. However, there are a few things you can do while you sit at home and wait this thing out.
Schedule A One On One With Your Admissions Counselor
No campus tours mean no opportunity to ask your tour guide important questions about the campus. Therefore, we suggest e-mailing your admissions counselor and request a one on one video call. Since you are home from school, you will be readily available during there work hours. In addition, this type of initiative and interest in the school will certainly be noted when it comes to acceptance time. If the counselor has a full schedule, as them if you can e-mail him or her a list of your questions.
Since you want to be respectful of there time, make sure your questions are specific and to the point. Be sure to write out 10 questions and order them by importance in case you do not get to all 10. Once you create your list, browse the school’s website and make sure none of the answers are already there. Your questions should cover a variety of topics such as dorm life, graduation rate, internships, alumni relations, average class size, student transportation and anything else that can help you understand if the school is right for you.
Take A Virtual Tour
In today’s world of technological advancement, most schools will offer some sort of a virtual tour for you to take. We would advise you to reach out to your admissions representative and see what your options are. Some schools may offer a pre-recorded tour of the whole campus, while others may have a series of videos based on your major of interest. If you are lucky, the school will be on the cutting edge and offer live tours at a certain time.
While a virtual tour should not fully replace an in-person one, there are several things you can look for as you get to know the campus better. The size of the classrooms can give you an idea of how big your classes are going to be. The technology in those classrooms can provide insight into how much the school reinvests in there students. Take notice of what they choose to focus on in these tours and more importantly what they chose to skip. If the tour spends a lot of time on the sports fields and completely skips the dining hall that could be a red flag worth researching further.
Interview An Alumni
Typically, we suggest reaching out to college alumni after you have visited a school. However, these are the times to get creative and ensure you are getting the information you need. If you haven’t already, create a LinkedIn profile so you can easily reach out to alumni who are now working professionals. Send them a direct message and explain that you gathering information on the college they went too and would like to ask them a few questions either on the phone or in-person.
Make sure you have created your list of 5-10 questions before you contact them in case they offer to speak to you the same day. Just like before, be sure your questions are direct and to the point. It is important to remember that unlike your admissions counselor, the alumni you are connecting with do not work for the school. They will much more likely to give you more honest and straightforward answers. Ask questions centered around there time at the school, what they liked, didn’t like and if they would do it all again if they had the chance.
Contact The Career Center
One of the most important reasons you are going to college is to work towards a fulfilling and prosperous career. The value of a degree is limited if it does not prepare you for the real world and workforce that will await you after graduation. If you are going to dedicate four years and thousands of dollars to a school they need to earn it. This is why it is important to learn all about the school’s career center and what it can offer you.
When speaking with your admissions rep, ask them to directly introduce you to someone at the career center via e-mail. Once you have made the connection, ask them to set a time where you can tell you about things such as internships, company partners, and job placement programs. Unlike your previous conversations, here is where you can ask open-ended questions about the type of internships the offer, the companies they partner with and the processes they use to place the students with those opportunities. Any career center worthwhile should be able to give you specific answers and examples as to how they will help you prepare for life after college.
Once the coronavirus is over, and life returns to normal, be sure to plan an in-person visit to any college you are considering. Until then, stay focused on conducting as much research as possible. Remain proactive by reaching out to the people who have the information you seek. Most importantly, remember to enjoy this journey, even when it takes an unexpected detour.
Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.