College Visits Go Virtual in 2020

A major part of committing to a college is taking a campus tour and experiencing the atmosphere of college life. Although the coronavirus pandemic has curtailed opportunities for this in-person right of passage, it has opened the door for seniors to conduct their college search in a new way: through virtual visits.

College officials have been working throughout the health crisis to come up with safe and creative ways to give campus tours to prospective students. This fall, quality virtual tours of colleges have become available at the click of a button.

On nearly every college website, prospective students can click through a web-based virtual tour of interactive photos and videos designed to be compatible across all devices. Tours consist of videos of campus facilities, Powerpoints, pre-recorded interviews with faculty and students, and one-on-one talks with college representatives.

"Virtual visits have been so helpful,” said Julia Thompson ’21, who is wrapping up her college search. “I've really been able to figure out the type of school that will best suit me, and I'm super excited to see where I end up for my next chapter."

Another Blair senior, Tess Whitehead ’21, noted that the virtual tours have allowed her to see so many different aspects of schools without even leaving her dorm. Although Tess is still conducting her college search, she, too, is confident that she will find the right fit.

Kevin Parsons, Blair’s associate dean of college counseling, noted the convenience that virtual college tours offer Blair students. Students can join in from any location that has Internet access, though most are in their dorm room or at home. Blair’s college counseling team has made it simple for students to access tours by listing upcoming virtual visits on its website. College admission representatives create their own Zoom links, so on the day of the visit, the students simply click the calendar link to join the virtual tour. 

“I think students really like this virtual alternative, even though it will never be able to replace real in-person visits,” Mr. Parsons said. “To the best of our knowledge, our students are doing a great job of participating in these virtual visits. I would say attendance is close to the same participation rate as in a regular year.”

Mr. Parsons noted that without virtual visits, students would have little-to-no opportunity to learn detailed information about colleges and to make connections with admission representatives. So, while virtual college visits are certainly not ideal, they are extremely helpful and a great way to help Blair students find their next chapter.

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