WEB EXCLUSIVE Visiting a college can be a deal maker or dealbreaker for seniors deciding on their future schools, so some members of the Class of 2021 are using next week’s Spring Break as an opportunity to visit potential colleges, while others are learning about college campuses through virtual resources.
Most schools have canceled in-person tours due to COVID restrictions and are instead offering virtual tours and online college fair opportunities.
“I feel like visiting schools is almost a necessary part of the process,” senior Halsey Williamson said. “You feel like you’re going in blind if you don’t visit schools.”
Some schools like Northeastern University are allowing applying and accepted students to visit campus if they have registered in advance. Others, like Pepperdine University, have closed their campuses to visitors until early May or June.
“The most accessible and safe option right now are virtual tours and visits and there is a lot of availability there,” college counselor Caitlin Walsh said. “If you absolutely feel like you must see some schools, make sure that you and your family feel safe doing that and be aware of the guidelines that are in the area.”
Some seniors who have confirmed their college decisions will be viewing their college campus for the first time next week, while others may use the travel opportunity to make their college decision, according to Walsh.
“Seniors are considering a lot right now and besides location are considering what the acceptance packages look like along with financial aid, and what the overall school offers,” Walsh said. “Sometimes a visit is what can tip the scale for the students and families that do feel enough sense of safety to do those visits.”
Some juniors also are planning on visiting potential colleges during Spring Break as a way to get a better understanding of where to apply, according to junior Anneli Dolan.
“I’m planning to visit a few schools on the East Coast, and I’m flying there with my family,” Dolan said. “I feel perfectly safe since airport and airplane protocols are a lot more developed and adjusted to COVID now.”
Even after traveling to a college’s location, students face the likely possibility of not being able to tour the campus, but Williamson says visiting the area around the school and understanding the community can be just as important.
“If the campuses are closed you could just walk around and tour the area and see if you like it,” Williams said. “It’s kind of important to see how the place will affect you, for instance if it will make you feel more isolated or safe.”