The typical journey of narrowing application lists through a lineup of information sessions and campus tours will no longer be a reality for this year’s rising seniors. These final steps on the road to college will predominantly be virtual, posing several questions that we will look to address. Namely, how are universities adapting, and how can your student get a true sense of a school without stepping foot on campus?
What to consider. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, nearly half of U.S. colleges and universities will be utilizing online or hybrid models this fall. Similarly, high schools across the country, including large districts like the LA and San Diego school districts are setting the tone for choosing online-only instruction, despite external pressure to re-open. This not only means that traditional, in-person college visits will continue to be largely restricted, but that high school students may not have as much direct access to college counseling or informative visits from admissions representatives in an online school setting. In response, universities have begun to ramp up virtual tours, information sessions, and events, offering both live and on-demand content that aims to be as interactive and informative as possible. We suggest students make the most of these opportunities to connect with admissions representatives, students, and faculty, asking specific and insightful questions that could not be answered by a preliminary exhaustive search of the school’s main and program-related websites. Further, follow-up with those involved with a thank you email the same day to build rapport with the school, possibly securing yourself an edge later down the line. Students should consider the aspects of a university experience they value most, beyond the ever-important criteria like class size, setting, GPA range, and more. Seek out the personal anecdotes and stories, in addition to the facts and figures important to your decision. This way, students can use virtual events to not only get a sense of how a school looks on paper, but how it may feel to be part of this community.
Engaging with schools. Schools have also been investing more time in social media, particularly aiming to relay their undergraduates’ actual voices and insights through mediums like Instagram Stories and even TikTok. These are not only opportunities to learn more about the student experience, but can offer easy ways to access new perspectives. Engaging with this content and reaching out to a number of current students can offer a plethora of valuable information and help applicants begin to assess whether or not they can picture themselves in their shoes. After all, why should a one single tour guide be the end all be all shaping a student’s perception of an institution?
While students may not be able to physically experience a walk through their future college’s towering library, through continued and active engagement with all of the information and key players in an admission and decision process, they will be able to narrow and select their best-fitting school. We at Novella Prep are prepared to guide and support students through this difficult process and ensure they are able to find the best institution for their needs, interests, and values.