High school students and their families often visit the colleges they’re interested in attending. This serves as a great way to pick the best fit, and to understand the location of your top-choice colleges—after all, you will be considering this your home-away-from-home for the next four years. This year there are a variety of obstacles that may change the college-visit landscape for high school seniors and their parents. If there are several colleges at various locations across the United States you’re interested in, gas prices, travel time and logistics may be a hurdle. As NPR reports gas prices may increase due to oil refinery shutdowns because of Hurricane Ida.Many families are also reconsidering travel, as COVID-19 has surged, and the delta variant is spreading in various parts of the country. The good news is there are a variety of ways for students to keep up their college research and work to solidify their college choices in the coming months. Thanks to technology and adaptability, Class of 2022 students have unique college visit opportunities. Below are four ways high school students can visit college, the pros and cons of each, and a tip specific to each visit type:
- High School Visits by College Admissions Counselors Many college admissions offices send admissions representatives out into the field, from college fairs to more personal, visits to high schools. While COVID has changed the landscape of these visits, high school administrators are opening their doors to this type of college visit. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) currently lists more than 690 high schools that are welcoming college admissions visitors on school grounds. Pro: You can pick up important materials like a college viewbook, and degree-program flyers to bring home.
- Remote Campus Visits Virtual visits provide a more comfortable experience as you can relax at home. You’ll have the freedom to choose specific areas of campus you’d like to explore. You Visit is a site dedicated to interactive campus visits. The Princeton Review also offers a list of colleges and universities that offer virtual campus tours. If you have a large list of colleges you’re considering, try visiting them virtually first. You can use what you learned to narrow down your list of top-college choices. Pro: You have the flexibility to explore the campus from your phone or desktop. Con: A tour guide is not present to share special insights such as campus history and student tips. Tip: If you enjoyed the virtual tour, but want a more personalized experience, contact the admissions office to see if they could set up a live video tour with one of their admissions representatives.
- Virtual College Fairs Virtual college fairs serve as a one-stop college exploration experience. You may not get to see campuses and their landmarks, but you’ll get more specific information on programs and student offerings. Many fairs are grouped by region. Research the dates you should plan to attend. You can also pick and choose the sessions that work best for you. From fairs by college regions to university fairs based upon interests, like STEM, and Performing and Visual Arts, NACAC is offering numerous college fairs to attend this fall. The upcoming NACAC virtual college fair dates are: September 12 September 28 October 3 October 14 October 24 November 2 November 14 Pro: These provide a one-stop or one-day way to research colleges. Con: Many colleges attend these virtual college fairs, so you could feel overwhelmed by your choices. Prioritize the informational sessions based upon what you’re looking to gain or find in a college. Tip: Provide your contact information to your favorite colleges at the fair. Doing this will let these colleges know you’re interested and get you on their mailing list.
- In-Person College Visits There are still colleges that are offering the original college-visit experience. To find out college tour dates, contact the college admissions offices. You’ll want to nail down these dates sooner, rather than later, as group sizes are more limited than they once were. The prep-work for these types of tours takes a bit more effort, as you’ll be walking amongst the campus grounds. Check out these seven college-visit tips from a campus tour guide to make the best of your experience. Pro: You and your family will gain an immersive, un-staged experience. Con: While in-person tours are free, there will be costs associated with getting to campus and food and lodging if the college is far from home. Tip: Plan ahead; schedule your visit and get it on your family calendar.