While high school students are “distance learning” from home, they still need to do what they can when it comes to college admission. For seniors, this means choosing which college to attend and for juniors, which colleges to apply.
By now you should have heard from almost all of the colleges to which you have applied. If you have a clear first choice and you have been accepted—Congratulations you are done! All that is left is to send in your deposit.
If you do not have a clear first choice, due to Covid-19 you will, unfortunately, not get to attend the Admitted Student Event that most colleges host in April. These events are an opportunity for the colleges to convince you to choose their institution. To that end, they will demonstrate what they can do for you – for your education as well as other areas such as internships and study abroad, clubs and organizations.
To make up for the inability to hold these on campus, many colleges are hosting virtual events. If you have been contacted by the colleges about theirs—you should definitely attend and get as much information as you can. If you have already toured the college, you have a good idea of the look and feel of the campus. If not, then these events are even more important to take advantage of as you make your final decision.
If your college is not offering a virtual admitted student event—or if you feel you still need more details to make your decision—use their websites to get more information (see below.)
Virtual Visits: Some colleges have already made changes to fit this unusual time. Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges in California, is offering a virtual campus information session. “Starting at 9AM and again at 2PM on PlatformQ we will play a pre-recorded information session. One of our admission counselors will be available on a corresponding live chat as the video plays, and for an additional half-hour after it concludes, to answer any questions your students may have about Pitzer.”
Virtual College Fairs: with physical college fairs cancelled, look for these.
Unfortunately, you will not get to spend your spring vacation visiting campuses. You may not be able to visit them over the summer either. But do not wait to get as much information as you can right now. If you have a list of colleges you are considering, start researching them now. You will also be demonstrating an interest in the college. When you visit the website make sure you sign up for notices and they have your contact information.
Researching a College Using Their Website:
Helpful hint: Bookmark important or interesting pages—it will be a big time saver when you want to revisit them at a later date.
- Look into your desired major(s). Does this college have the specific areas of focus or concentration you are interested in? Also look at depth and breadth of courses offered. For certain majors, this can differ—often, but not always—between what is available at smaller colleges versus larger universities.
- For some specific majors like Nursing, the required classes will be very similar but you can look into the clinical sites the college uses. How far from campus are they? Will you need your own car?
- Identify specific coursework of interest within the major(s) you are considering
- Is there a core curriculum at this college? These are sometimes also called General Education Requirements (Gen Eds). This means that the college requires every student, regardless of major, to take certain specific classes or choose classes within certain areas of study, to ensure everyone has a foundation of courses across the liberal arts.
- Academic Advising: Look for any information they have regarding advisors, peer tutors, writing centers.
- Does the college offer career counseling?
- What are the housing options? Some options may only be for upperclassmen, but you can get a sense of what is offered: types of dorms, themed housing, Living and Learning Communities, and specific dorms—or sections within dorms—for Honors students.
- Does the college guarantee on-campus housing for all four years? If not, do they help students obtain off-campus housing?
- Sports: A list of their Intramural and Club sports
- Clubs: colleges offer a wide variety of clubs students can join
- Student Government
- Greek Life (Fraternities and Sororities)
- Religious organizations
- Organizations for particular majors, such as pre-med or business clubs
- Volunteering opportunities
- Take the virtual tour of the campus. If they don’t offer one, find a copy of the campus map to see how the campus is laid out.
For Students For Whom This Applies:
Office of Disability Services: Use the college website and see how much information you can find regarding the services and help are they offering students. This may be more general information. However, think about this as if it were a visit to their office. Have a list of questions and if you do not find the answers on the website, contact them. Although the campus may be shut down, administrators should be available to respond by email or phone.
The website should also have information regarding the documentation they require. Although you won’t need to provide this until you decide you are attending, it is good to be ready.
NCAA Athletics: is there an online form for you to fill out for the coach? Is there specific information and data you can find for your sport? Contact the coach or the Athletic Department and let them know you are interested in learning more about their program.
Be proactive and take advantage of things the colleges are offering so come this fall, you will not feel like you are applying blindly to colleges.