So you’ve finally narrowed down your preferred colleges, but now you can’t visit. What’s your next step?
Take an online tour. Virtual or interactive tours show what a campus looks like, from your future residence hall to classrooms. At the very least, you’ll see the campus at its best and know if you like the institution’s overall aesthetic.
Search their social media. Every college has some form of online presence — TikTok, Instagram or even Flickr — and it’s used for more than fun.
Besides providing updates on campus events and the community at large, social media is one of the best ways to get a decent feel for the tone and atmosphere. You can see daily life on campus, personal snapshots of potential classmates as well as the achievements of its alumni, faculty and students.
Colleges also tend to highlight their strengths through these channels, so if it’s a research-intensive institution or surrounded by natural beauty, you’ll be able to better determine what appeals to you. Some campuses offer interactive live chats with presidents, academic experts and a behind-the-scenes look into some departments.
Join Facebook or other social media groups, too, suggests Sue Corner, director of recruitment at Willamette University.
“Our admitted students are invited to join the Class of 2024 Facebook group, and it’s a great way — the best way — for them to get to know one another right now,” she said. “So, it’s not just about understanding the college, but understanding their admitted peers.”
Several institutions are hosting online info sessions through Facebook or Instagram, too, so visit the websites of places you’re interested in to see if they’re planning any interactive events, she added.
Email an admission counselor. Online research is great, but interacting with someone who knows the campus well can make all the difference. Contact admission counselors via email in case they’re out of the office — talking to someone can answer questions that may be relevant only to your circumstance or be enough to tip your decision entirely. Many admission staff at Willamette are available through Zoom, YouCanBookMe or other platforms. Ask if there’s an opportunity to “meet” face-to-face with someone over screens.
Connect remotely with students, faculty or alumni. Ask an admission counselor to connect you with a student or alum to hear about their experience, campus culture and classes. Research a faculty member’s bio, too — maybe they’re an expert on a subject you plan on pursuing in college, and emailing is an easy way to find out more. You want to make the most fully-informed choice possible, so the more information you can receive the better.
Schedule an online visit with Willamette here.