Virtual College Visits

UC San Diego’s virtual information session online, presented on Zoom. Colleges all across the country have shifted their admissions resources to be online. Photo by Liv Lufkin.

For rising seniors, springtime of their junior year is usually marked by a flurry of activity. The college search is on, with many students missing school or taking personal time to go visit college campuses to figure out what their next 4-5 years will look like. 

But the recent pandemic has disrupted all of that. High schools and colleges have switched over to online learning and campuses have shut down, with students moving back home. This poses a problem to prospective college students: how do you decide what type of schools you’re interested in if you can’t visit them? 

Enter online college visits. 

There are two types of online college visits that I’ve found: online informational sessions, and virtual visits. 

Informational sessions typically feature an admissions officer, who gives a presentation about the school, spotlighting campus life, classes, financial aid, and much more. Typically, there is a brief period of time for questions and answers at the end that provides students with direct communication from admissions officers. This is a useful platform, especially if questions arise during the presentation. Macalester College in St. Paul Minnesota and University of California San Diego had thorough presentations followed by a Q and A session in their informational meeting. UC San Diego’s presentation was held on Zoom, while Macalester’s was held on its own platform. 

Both sessions featured alumni testimonials: UC San Diego had a former student on the call, answering questions, while Macalester had the admission officer describe several students’ paths through their experience at the college. 

Far and away, Oregon State University had the most comprehensive virtual experience. Not only did they have a great virtual tour, led by a student guide, but the admissions page also gave additional links to an information session and campus tour, including various zoom webinars dedicated to topics like housing, dining, academics, the Honors College, majors, and a Q and A session with students. 

For students from Oregon, this is a great college to start with. By getting a feel of the college, whether it be through virtual visits or an information session, you can get a better idea of what you’re looking for. Whether it’s a large state school, a smaller liberal arts school, urban or rural, experiencing what the school has to offer —although virtually— is still a great first step in the college admissions process. 

To sign up for an informational session or take a virtual visit, go the website of a college of your choice! The majority of universities and colleges have shifted to online admissions information so the likelihood that the college you’re looking for has online information is pretty high. 

Quarantine is a great time to educate yourself on what’s out there, and to get a better idea of what you want your college experience to look like. That way, in the fall when the application process starts rolling, it’s somewhat less overwhelming. 

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