Virtual College Visits: The New Reality

By J1 Reporter Jordan Moser   

A college visit can make or break a high school student’s decision on whether or not they apply to attend. A visit allows a student to get a feel for the environment, ask questions, and decide if it’s where they want to be for the next four years. So what happens when those visits become virtual?

Before the current pandemic restrictions, colleges used to set up informational tables in Marian’s Quad during lunches. Representatives would meet with students, answer questions, and maybe even give out some college swag. Students could also go visit these colleges on the weekends or during a holiday break. Now, however, many students must join Zoom meetings to figure out what school is right for them. 

The virtual visits are set up on Zoom in presentation mode. The college will either give a virtual tour, share their highlights, answer questions, or all of the above. However, even though meetings are around 10-15 minutes long, students attending has proven itself to be difficult. “Most of the visits have had no students. I think it’s out of sight, out of mind,” said Mrs. Jennifer Christen, Assistant Principal and Dean of Student Services. “They’re Zoomed out.”

When asked a similar question on student attendance, Mrs. Anna Sparwasser, Counselor, responded, “I think students know [about the visits], but it’s just one more Zoom they can’t do. Maybe it’s the uncertainty of the future.”

Student Services, where students can attend and receive information on visits
Photo by Jordan Moser

Senior Katie Hedrick, although liking most of the visits she attended, does have feelings of uncertainty. The virtual visits are affecting her decisions. “It [a virtual visit] does affect it because it’s hard with technology. I see which colleges have it together and which ones don’t if I’m online next fall,” she said. “It’s nice to know if they have it under control.” Hedrick attended Villanova’s visit offered through Marian, Tulane’s offered by Tulane themselves, and Loyola-Chicago’s offered by themselves. 

Some of the visits Hedrick attended were better than others. “Part of it deals with how they present it. I’m someone who likes that interactiveness. In one visit, it felt more like they were talking at me rather than me being able to ask questions.” However, the majority of the visits Hedrick attended were not like this. “In one, I just talked with the admissions counselor and asked questions. It was super nice.”

Hedrick said she thinks the visits are a great opportunity and recommends them to every student. “They’re a good way to get to know the college. I know it’s tedious if you’re at home or don’t want to oom again, but they really do help.” 

More visits are scheduled through November and the list just keeps growing. Juniors and seniors that are interested can find the dates in their email, their Naviance account, or the daily bulletin. 

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