COVID-19 has disrupted college life more than any event in recent history. The last few months have seen college dorms empty, professors learning to teach courses online, and undergraduates adjusting to a new and uncertain academic environment. However, colleges around the nation still strive to provide essential services, including recruitment.
Traditionally, campuses invite prospective students to take an on-campus tour. However, with schools likely closed through the summer, admission officials have thought up new ways to give you a taste of on-campus life without putting you or family members at risk.
In this article, we’ll examine three topics:
- How colleges and universities throughout the country are launching virtual tours
- How the experience differs from an in-person tour
- How to make the most of your virtual tour experience
How are Universities Responding?
If you go on a college website these days, you’ll likely find a link at the top of the page that goes into detail concerning that school’s COVID-19 response. There, you’ll discover similar information no matter the school – the campus is closed, student and career services are now entirely online, etc.
While some schools have quickly developed a virtual college tour, others lack the resources to create one or don’t have them ready yet. If schools you want to know more about do not offer a virtual tour, you can still create your own using the steps ACT recommends. Other reputable organizations provide valuable tips, as well.
Don’t forget that you can always learn more about a college or university by contacting professionals in the admission department. Although these individuals are working from home, they can still answer your most pressing questions.
What’s It Like Going on a Virtual Tour?
Let’s focus on one excellent example of a virtual tour – Seattle University. As the institution is located in the heart of the COVID-19 epidemic, school officials have launched a virtual tour platform to give you the on-campus experience at home.
Using a smartphone or computer, you log on to the Seattle University tour. The tour consists of a prerecorded tour guide who takes you through the campus’ main buildings. Using the arrows at the bottom of the screen, you can take a ‘stroll’ through campus while learning valuable information. Seattle University’s virtual tour also includes a checklist that shows which campus highlights you have already reviewed.
Finally, even if schools on your shortlist have not yet developed a virtual tour like Seattle University’s, be sure to check back often. They should have something in place soon.
How Can I Make the Most of the Experience?
Unlike a traditional college tour, a virtual tour gives you the chance to backtrack and revisit at your leisure. While viewing the tour, be sure to take notes of your first impressions and any questions that come to mind (i.e., These are things you should do anyway during an in-person college tour.). Afterward, follow the same steps you would take after an in-person tour – email admission department advisors with your question.
Hopefully, in the coming months, college campuses will once again open their doors to current and prospective students. Even when that happens, though, virtual tours will remain a pillar of each college’s recruitment drive. After all, not all high school students and their families have the time or money to make the trip.
So, in the meantime, enjoy your virtual tours, reach out to a school if you have questions, and stay safe indoors.