Even though you may not be able to go on in-person college visits now, there are many things you can do at home to determine if a prospective school is a good fit for you. For example, you can interact with the school on their website, via email, and on social media not only to learn more about what they offer, but to demonstrate interest. Many colleges track “demonstrated interest” to see how seriously a student is considering attending the school.
Check out these tips for navigating virtual college admissions and visits during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Take advantage of virtual sessions and tours: On the school’s admissions page, you can find out about and take part in virtual tours, chats, video presentations, and Q&As. A good place to start is the official virtual tour found on the admissions webpage.
- Visit the college’s admission website and fill out an interest form: This is another way to demonstrate interest in the school. Plus, it gets you on the college’s email list so you can stay informed of any updates.
- Open emails from the college: Many colleges use software to track how you interact with their emails, whether by simply opening the email or clicking on and visiting links within the email.
- Connect with colleges on social media: Most schools are now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and even Snapchat. Following these accounts is a great way to demonstrate interest in the school. You can reach out to student ambassadors, alumni, and the school’s different departments on social media. Take it a step further by checking out student videos on the school’s official YouTube channel and joining the admissions-hosted Facebook group. This group is the perfect place to post any questions you have about campus culture and life. For example, you may want to ask how students typically spend their weekend nights and whether students in dorms share rooms or a communal bathroom.
- Do independent research by exploring third-party websites, such as CollegeBoard and Unigo: These online boards are great resources where you can get fast facts and figures about schools in the U.S. and Canada, as well as honest reviews and opinions from students. Also, be sure to check out Niche, which has student reviews, and CampusReel for student-generated videos of campuses.
- Check out on- and off-campus dining options: You can do this by reviewing on-campus dining options on the school’s Student Life section of their website. For off-campus dining options, explore sites such as Foursquare, Yelp, and Google Maps. These sites will help you determine the variety and breadth of restaurants and fast food options within walking distance of campus.
Throughout your online research process, be sure to take notes about each school, as well as its campus and student culture. It may help to organize your notes in an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet. Gather all your notes in a physical folder (or a virtual one on your computer) so you can refer back to them when narrowing down your list of schools.
Keep reading to learn more about shortlisting schools, as well as how to categorize your list into safety, target, and reach schools: