Students who are almost done with the college application process, as well as those who are just beginning, have opportunities previously unavailable. They can attend college information sessions throughout the nation, interview with alumni from colleges they are applying to, and tour college campuses on either coast–all from the comfort of their home. Although many are fatigued by online learning and crave human contact, this new virtual world presents endless possibilities. These opportunities have never been so readily available in the history of college admissions and I for one, hope they are here to stay even when college campuses re-open for in-person tours.
Students who in the past were unable to travel from New York to California, now have the chance to attend an information session at Santa Clara or interview via Zoom with Stanford. While visiting a college in person is definitely the best path to take, for those who do not have the means available to travel long or even short distances, the virtual world offers future applicants a chance to engage with colleges. This new virtual world also enables students to show demonstrated interest in colleges to which they have or plan to apply. Not all colleges track demonstrated interest, but for those who do, it could be a determining factor in gaining admissions to a school. A few years ago I toured High Point University where an admissions counselor shared the story of admitting a student with a lower GPA who had visited the campus over a student with a higher GPA who had shown no demonstrated interest in HPU. Why take the chance? Read emails sent from colleges, attend online events when possible, and sign up for a virtual tour. Virtual tours also assist students in narrowing down their college list. During the virtual tour take a peek at dorm rooms, dining options, lab spaces and lecture halls. As equally important is what is not shown during the tour. Did they fail to show the library, workout facilities, or the student union? After participating in virtual tours, students can start to build their list of “must visit” college campuses.
Some colleges are also offering live chat sessions where applicants can connect with currently enrolled students. This is a great way to get the “inside scoop” about a school without ever setting foot on the campus. Ask questions such as, “Where is the best place to study outside of the library? What do students do on the weekends? If you could change one thing about the campus, what would it be?” Check your email to discover these wonderful events colleges have developed to keep applicants interacting with their campus. Interviews are another way to connect with a college. Although not all schools offer them, students should sign up for interviews when available. Conducted via Zoom and other virtual platforms, the interviews are typically conducted by alumni and are more of friendly conversation than an interrogation. Students should dress in business casual clothes and be prepared with a few questions to ask their interviewer. If you are uncertain about a college’s interview policy, you can find the information on the school’s website or contact the admission’s office.
Connecting with colleges in as many ways possible will make deciding which colleges to apply to and eventually attend much easier. In this new virtual world, there isn’t a college you can’t visit!