Parents of high school-aged students across the country are facing a similar challenge: how are we going to start the college search process without visiting the schools my child wants to visit? Have no fear, we are here to help. Hopefully, you have started working with their high school college counselor and put together a list of schools to check out. This is the “Start” line.
What happens next? How do you navigate the maze of finding the way to the best college choice for your student? You begin to move forward, of course. Thankfully, in a digitally driven and techno-savvy society, most all information is at your fingertips. Under the current circumstances, American culture has been effected in every possible way, including access to college. We don’t want this to prohibit you from “seeing” the college campuses of choice and feeling good about the experience. Websites such as YouVisit.com and Campustours.com can serve as a great resource. You can quickly see which colleges provide a virtual platform for visiting their campus. If you don’t see your student’s desired colleges on these lists, encourage them to go straight to the website. It’s common to see not only virtual campus tours, but also virtual tours of residence halls, study spaces, and things to do in the local area surrounding the college.
Seeing a campus virtually may not give you the full insight you and your student are looking for. Next, look for ways to connect with a current student. It is common to find an ambassador website with student biographies of a variety of students, and sometimes with a link to submit a request to speak with them and/or their contact information may be listed there for your access. Ambassadors are typically student representatives who work in the Admissions Office on a college campus. They love to share their stories, so utilize this resource as a means of better understanding the student experience.
Not satisfied with the unusual, yet fascinating way, that Generation Z communicates with one another? FaceTime is great and all, but as a parent, sometimes you would rather just pick up the (cell) phone and talk to an admissions counselor. Again, you are in luck. Admissions counselors are experts at being flexible. Working remotely, being creative in meeting students in person and now largely virtually, an admissions counselor is closer than you think. Even though our campuses are closed, we remain accessible to assist you.
The “finish” line to virtually exploring colleges really ends once senior year has started. Rest assured, whenever you start this process, there will be plenty of opportunities to visit (in some shape or form) as your rising senior begins their last year of high school. Once you’ve navigated the labyrinth of Virtual Campus Tours, you are well on your way to helping your student choose the right school!
Allyson Brown, Associate Dean of Admissions for Diversity & Inclusion