No Campus Visits, Now What?
While pandemics like the coronavirus are not new to many of us, unfortunately for high school students typically planning travel abroad for such things as summer programs and college campus visits, the situation is unprecedented and can be understandably troubling. With many activities on hold, what may be the potential ramifications for this year’s newly admitted students obliged to visit in-person to confirm their best choice? Or younger students still in the midst of planning academic and extracurricular enrichment?
While all of us in the education industry are hopeful this is only a minor setback, we can’t adopt a “business-as-usual” approach in what are most unusual circumstances. Fortunately, for students (and their worried parents), there are plenty of practical alternatives to make the most of the situation. As a matter-of-fact, no matter the conditions that prevent students from campus visits or study abroad, e.g. tight schedules, budgetary restrictions, the following may be viewed as essential “best practices” to better ensure a positive outcome:
1. College websites: Visit college websites to find the latest information; reach out to college admissions and ask questions. Look for announcements for organized virtual tours and admitted student days from the colleges. Now’s also a great time to begin or continue your research—extensively.
2. Regional representatives: Reach out to your regional admission representative to inquire about their plans. Ask for their recommendation on how best to experience the college online. See if they can connect you with a student ambassador through Skype, FaceTime, or WeChat. Conduct your own interview if possible.
3. Virtual tours: Take a virtual tour of the campus. Most colleges provide them on their own websites or through YouTube. Campus Reel offers virtual tours of hundreds of colleges. www.campusreel.org/
4. Social media: Join student groups on Facebook and other social platforms, and get in on conversations to do with campus culture, student life, and other useful subjects. What’s it like to study there? Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are useful as well. Other sites like Big Future and Niche provide plenty of useful data and student reviews.
5. LinkedIn: For students and families that are concerned with outcomes, a university’s Linkedin page can be a big help. You can search to see where people work by industry and location but also by what they studied. Does one college offer an advantage over another in your areas of interest? Many students have a Linkedin profile as well, so why not try to make a connection?
6. Virtual learning: Test-prep services and colleges are moving toward virtual learning, while a vast number of stand-alone academic enrichment programs already exist for seemingly every subject of interest, e.g. Coursera, edX. And there are many more currently entering the space to account for travel limitations. A new precedent is being set for online learning and the technology which delivers it. Seek out some courses and get enrolled.
7. Read, write, and focus on self-improvement: No matter which school you’ve been admitted to or wish to be admitted to, take any opportunity to advance your knowledge, whether within your chosen major or other subjects of interest. Are your study skills sharp enough? Essay writing? The first year of college can be daunting, so why not take advantage however you can to improve your chances of having a smooth landing and arrive one step ahead of the game?
8. Education Consulting: Speak to your high school counselor or education consultant. A counselor/consultant team will be well versed in presenting actionable suggestions for making the best use of your time and next steps, no matter if you’re a junior just getting started or senior as yet uncertain of your “dream” school choice once May comes around.
Even though the coronavirus is the catalyst for many of the above tactics, and indeed spurred me to present this information, in fact these are what my team and I always advise students to do regardless of external conditions—and many provide the dual benefit of what we call “demonstrating interest,” which can aid in school admissions decisions.
It’s all about education and empowerment. Position yourself for the best selection of schools, build your skills and boost your profile, and be as ready as you can be when decision day comes.