Virtual visits offer safer, more convenient way to explore colleges

Virtual tours and visits provide prospective students information about colleges and universities…from the safety of their own homes.

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Rachel Lim

In-person college visits and tours are mostly canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, colleges and BOHS offer virtual opportunities for high school students to meet college counselors and learn about prospective colleges.

One of the activities that juniors and seniors most look forward to each Spring are college visits and tours, but this year, due to COVID-19, most in-person campus visits are off-limits. But while family road trips to potential college destinations are near-impossible this year, most colleges are offering virtual tours and visits. 

Virtual visits and tours make colleges and universities more accessible than ever. Megan Jansen, counselor, said, “Our BOHS students have access to learn more about campuses from all over than they would have pre-COVID.”

These virtual tours allow prospective students to visit campus hotspots to get a feel for the potential home in the future. Virtual college tours include videos of campuses, question and answer sessions with current students and admissions counselors, and information about academic programs and student life.

“I think the virtual college tours were helpful when I was deciding whether to apply to certain colleges and what I should include in my essays,” Jackie Piepkorn, senior, said. “The tours helped me feel more comfortable in making decisions on where to apply and were especially needed during a time in which I could not participate in on-campus tours.”

Jessica Woody, senior, said that the virtual college tours are helpful, especially “if you haven’t looked at schools in depth.”

College virtual tours have been offered since the beginning of this school year. The BOHS website directs students to You University TV, where universities like Yale, UCLA, and others host their virtual tours. Many of the virtual tours featured by BOHS involve current students and admissions counselors available to answer questions. 

Piepkorn liked “Harvey Mudd College’s essay workshops, during which they covered how to write the Common Application personal statement and supplemental essays.”

BOHS also has college visits from admission officers from across the country. For example, during a Cal Poly Pomona college visit on Oct. 28, 2020, students registered for the Zoom college visit in the BOHS Counseling Section and joined the meeting. There, college admissions officers greeted the students and got to know them while introducing themselves. Then, they started a presentation about their school and what makes them stand out, ranging from curricula, student life, meal plans, the application processes, and even nearby attractions.

College visits allow students to get a feel for what the college is like and if they think the school would be a good fit for them. 

Aileen Kim, senior, said, “As a junior, I was super excited to go visit my colleges, but the online experience turned out to be better. I feel like I gained more information through the webinars than I would’ve if I were on an in person tour.”

To complement the virtual experience, prospective students have other tools to fully explore their dream schools. Prospective students can:

  1. Visit the college or university’s website. 
  2. Visit a college or university’s social media page. Although getting the “campus-life” experience is harder virtually, through social media, a high school student can get additional glimpses into student life and the campus’s atmosphere.
  3. Read reviews. Websites like Niche include student reviews of almost every college and also give ratings on that college’s academic programs, student life, and even campus food. 

With these virtual college visits and tours, this safer alternative will provide the resources students need to make more informed decisions about their post-high school plans, and from the safety and convenience of home.