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Schools around the country have begun to close, professional sports leagues have been suspended, and citizens are stockpiling toilet paper at unprecedented rates.

As a high school student getting ready to visit potential colleges, what does the spread of COVID-19 mean for your future? How can you show colleges you’re interested while you’re stuck at home?

Demonstrated interest in a school is an essential part of the process for some admissions offices—these colleges love students who love them. To show interest in a school, it is recommended that you schedule a campus visit, talk with representatives at college fairs, attend an interview, email an admissions rep with a meaningful question, or possibly even shadow a current student. Unfortunately, few of these options are viable under the current shadow of Coronavirus. But what can you do?

Visiting the school’s website can be an easy step one. There is a terrific amount of information available to you if you’re willing to dig for it. Take a look at the student organizations, the on-campus living situation, the facilities, academic programs, course catalog, and, of course, the food situation in the dining hall. As you do this, write down what you love about the school and any questions you might have, so that you can ask them later. Before you close the page or open a new tab, be sure to look for a virtual tour. These are filled with great information and honestly do feel like the real thing. If you like what you see, I recommend that you sign up for the college’s prospective student email list.

You want to get your name and email in their system and eventually want them to know who you are. Remember, don’t contact admissions unless you have a question that can’t be answered online. Many admissions offices are adapting to Coronavirus limitations by offering virtual admissions events such as webinars, virtual info sessions, chats, etc. Check with your schools of interest directly and also check out NACAC’s (National Association for College Admissions Counseling) tool or this growing list of virtual events here.

By using your computer or phone, you can also browse and follow their respective social media accounts. While I know Generation Z has moved away from Facebook, colleges still have a large presence there and I advise the Zuckerberg creation as a starting point for information. Schools do put out a lot on Instagram and YouTube as well, so exploring those avenues is advantageous.

Another tool for students to use during this time is Campus Reel. The site includes student-made videos, tours, and experiences from over 300 colleges in the country. From, “What was hard about freshman year at Penn State” to “The food at Towson is awesome,” it encompasses a lot. You can also check out YouVisit, another campus virtual tour website.

Getting out of the house and away from the computer might be possible shortly. During your time on the college website, look for an alumni email contact. Be bold and ask to meet up with someone in your area who recently graduated. If a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible, try to schedule a Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime meeting with them. Prepare some engaging and thought-provoking questions for the alum before the meeting and be ready to take some notes. It might also be worth exploring your high school’s resources where you may be able to find a recent graduate who is a current student at your school of interest. In addition, check your own network, you may have a family member or a friend who attended the school you’re interested in.

Finally, there’s always the old school method of consulting books. The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2020 is a trusted resource offering third-party, unbiased profiles of academic offerings, campus life, and social scene reviews at hundreds of institutions. It’s a great desk reference for anyone engaging in the college search process.

Colleges love students who are resourceful, so seeking out information about a school through nontraditional methods shows passion and determination. Ultimately, you are telling the school that nothing will deter you from your collegiate dreams, not even the ugliness of COVID-19.


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