Researching Colleges When You Can’t Visit Campus

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It’s never too soon to start researching colleges. If you’re college bound, then it’s time to begin. The better you understand your options, the easier it will be to build your college list. Not sure where to start? There are a number of ways you can learn about a campus to determine if it is the right fit for you.

Last spring, colleges responded quickly to develop virtual resources for students who couldn’t visit in person due to Covid-19. As a result, there are an abundance of opportunities for you to get to know campuses across the country. We’re also available to help. We have visited literally hundreds of colleges in person. If you have questions, just ask! We can give you the inside scoop.

Here are our tips for doing college research:

Take a virtual tour or attend a virtual event. You can easily find links on a college’s website. Virtual experiences can be both taped and live and range from guided tours to information sessions, Q&A panels and one-on-one sessions. Live events typically require you to register in advance, but taped events are accessible anytime.

Visit a college’s website. In addition to finding general information about enrollment, admissions stats, campus life and housing, dig into academic departments and browse courses offered, professor bios and undergraduate opportunities like research in your potential major. Look for what makes a college truly stand out to you.

Follow your colleges on social media.  You can learn a lot about campus life on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. Some accounts are run by students or feature student takeovers, which will help you get an authentic view of campus. It’s a great opportunity for you to keep up to date with schools or departments, organizations, sports teams, and even professors whose work you admire.

Use online resources and apps. Listen to first-hand student testimonials and tours through websites like CampusReel, YouVisit, Induck and College Vizzy. YouTube is another great resource. College Expert students also have access to all the resources in their Custom College Plan, which includes links to guides such as The Fiske guide, Niche and Big Future.

Sign up for a college’s mailing list. Once you sign up, you’ll receive emails from the college as well as notifications of virtual events. An added bonus, a college will track if you’ve requested information and opened their emails, and this can work in your favor because it demonstrates interest.

Email admissions counselors. Another way to demonstrate interest is to email a college’s admissions counselor. It isn’t too soon to introduce yourself, tell them why you are interested in their school and ask any questions you can’t find the answer to on their website.

Talk with current students or alumni. Ask parents, family friends, teachers and others about their college experiences. An admissions office also may be able to put you in touch with a current student so you can get their perspective. Or ask us – we may be able to connect you with a student who attends that school. We also post College Spotlights written by our former students on the blog on our website.

We know nothing quite replaces exploring a campus in person. But it’s still possible to get to know a college using these resources and feel informed, confident and excited as you build your list and anticipate going off to college. It’s time to get started!

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