How to do college visits in 2021
Sometimes it takes a worldwide crisis to remind us how much we rely on and perhaps take for granted certain experiences and opportunities. The on-campus college visit has arguably been the key component of a college search - admission counselors and current college students always promising that “you’ll just know” when you step foot on campus. But, what happens when you cannot do this? Is it possible to choose the right college without ever seeing it in person?
To be fair, thousands of students do this every year. International students who may not be able to make a trip across the globe, and students without the financial means or the ability to take time away to go on college visit jaunts have always found the wherewithal, the confidence, and the creative alternative ways to explore colleges and find the right fit. But, now, in this new virtual reality in which we live, there are far better ways to do an effective college search without stepping foot on the physical campus.
RWU is offering in-person visits. However, with limited capacity due to health and safety guidelines, changing inter-state travel policies, as well as families’ own ability and comfort level, these visits are not right and/or accessible for everyone.
The good news is that the virtual offerings are so robust these days that you’ll have access to more than you ever have before. Let’s explore these and offer some tips and guidance!
The three typical categories of virtual offerings:
Admission Information Sessions and Tours. Often times admission information sessions and campus tours will be offered as a packaged session. The admission information session will give you a high-level overview of the institution and the admission process, which is designed to lead into the campus tour that explores more detailed aspects of the student experience. If you are attending these separately keep in mind that they should complement each other and both are valuable. We're offering both in-person and virtual information session and tours.
- These sessions are great as first visits. They will introduce you to the institution and give you high-level information.
- Admission information sessions are usually presented by an admission counselor who is familiar with both the college and the admission and aid processes.
- Virtual campus tours are being delivered both “live” or as a true virtual experience that you can explore on your own time and at your own pace. In live virtual tours a student clicks through a virtual campus tour platform while narrating each stop, sharing their experiences, and answering questions.
College admission advice sessions. Many institutions are hosting “how to” sessions for various aspects of the college search process. Topics include writing your college essay, filling out the Common Application, filling out the FAFSA, and more. These are designed to be more general and informational rather than specific to the institution. Therefore, they can be complementary to the other types of sessions.
Topic-specific sessions. These sessions focus on specific majors, programs, or aspects of the college experience. These sessions may be presented by faculty, college staff, and/or current students. Best practice would be to attend or watch an admission information session and/or campus tour before attending these. The information here is designed to go deeper and will focus very specifically on the topic area. The presenters will likely assume that you have some level of knowledge of the institution in general before engaging here (even if that knowledge has been gathered through online research).
It's never a bad idea to engage with more than one type of offering from each of the colleges you are considering. Hearing from more than one member of the community gives multiple viewpoints and perspectives. Colleges are doing their best to schedule these sessions at the most convenient times for you, and to keep them short and sweet. We know that you have a lot of screen time in your life as it is! When in doubt, never hesitate to reach out to the admission office directly for guidance in selecting the visit experience and sessions that are right for you.