Make your virtual experience worthwhile and leave the session with a good idea of what the school feels like. Ask the right questions and pay attention to the details that really matter to you. These 12 tips can help you find the best college fit for you!
Virtual college visits and campus tours have made it easier than ever to connect with admission counselors, current students and alumni… without spending hours in the car or dropping major dollars on airfare!
Before You Log On
1. Schedule virtual visits like you would in-person visits
Pre-recorded sessions are readily available online, but I highly recommend registering for a LIVE virtual campus tour and/or information session ahead of time. This not only demonstrates interest, but the reps will be able to tailor the session to your interests and give you opportunity to engage. Registration is typically found on the college’s website like this example from Elon University.
2. Visit the college’s website
Know the basics of the college will help you ask high-level questions that are not obvious on the website (i.e. size, majors offered, location, etc). Take 15 minutes to explore their website. What upcoming student events appeal to you? Check out the admission page and review their admission process, deadlines, tuition/financial aid, and other requirements. If you have a long list of schools you’re considering, a quick glance at their list of majors, like TCU’s here, can help narrow it down.
3. Check out the college’s social media
Social media profiles can provide you with real-time information on a school. You can discover the latest campus news, learn about upcoming events, and watch videos featuring interviews with faculty, staff, and students. Interested in studying business, let Bentley University’s Instagram inspire you!
4. GoogleMaps, WeatherSpark, and WalkScore
Without setting foot on campus, GoogleMaps can tell you if there is a vegan restaurant nearby, how far the gym is from the freshman dorms, or and what the surroundings look like. WeatherSpark lets you know if you’ll need to wear rain boots all spring. Not sure if you’ll need a car, use WalkScore to determine walkability.
During the Session
5. Turn your camera on and be ready to unmute
Have you ever done a virtual presentation? It’s much more fun when you can see everyone! Even if you decide to be incognito, be dressed appropriately and in a quiet location because the presenter might ask you to engage! Make sure your Zoom or Skype name is your actual name, so they know who you are!
6. Resist Temptation
It’s easy to do a little online shopping, message friends, or even completely zone out when someone else is presenting. Try to imagine you’re actually in the room. In most cases, the presenter is someone who reads applications and makes admission decisions, so make a great impression!
7. Think of what you’d notice on campus
Most campus visit websites have both a street-view as well as a bird’s eye view. You can play with these settings to figure out the distance between different parts of campus and try walking the same number of miles from your own home to get an idea of how much you might have to walk. As for weather, you can always check your phone for the temperature at any place on a given day. These factors can make a difference in your decision of where to attend, so don’t forget to take them into account.
8. Screenshot, Bookmark, & Record
Yay technology! Use these features to record parts of the tour so you can reference later. This is especially helpful if you’re attending multiple virtual tours. You can easily revisit a screenshot and remember a campus building that stood out. Make sure to capture the presenter’s name and contact info.
9. Ask Questions and Take Notes
Ask questions via chat during virtual info sessions. Designate a notebook or GoogleDoc to document the things you learn: deadlines, application advice, or any personal anecdotes shared by the admission rep. Develop a list of questions to ask each school. The responses to these questions can help you rank schools based on their desirability as it relates to your interests and “must-have” features. You’ll be happy to reference this information when you write your application essays.
After The Session
10. Get on their email list
Not only is this an easy way to demonstrate interest, but you’ll be the first to know when updates are made to their admission process that will directly impact you. Stay alert to deadlines, application tips, invitations to prospective student events, and space-limited in-person opportunities.
11. Follow up with the presenter
Admission counselors are eager to connect with students in any way that they can! Be sure to note the presenter’s name and email address so you can thank them and ask additional questions. They can e-introduce you to current students or faculty who can answer your specific questions. It might seem cheesy, but building a relationship with your admission counselor can sway a decision in your favor! If you’re really feeling festive, a written note goes the distance!
12. Log-off and Reflect
Don’t just shut your computer and go on with your life. Instead, take a few minutes to research things the presenter mentioned that sounded cool and also jot down your feelings (yes, feelings!). How did this presentation make you feel? Welcomed? Elitist? Cared for? Unworthy? Did they say something you really liked or that rubbed you the wrong way? Applying to college takes time and effort, is this somewhere you’d like to apply?