Although nothing can replace the experience of physically walking around campus for the first time, school closures thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic mean virtual campus “visits” are the new reality for prospective students, at least for the foreseeable future. It may not be ideal to have to choose which campus is right for you through a computer screen, but there are things you can do to maximize your virtual tour experience and feel more confident about your school choice.
Be positive, present and actively engaged
Campus tours are an exciting part of the decision-making process. Therefore, you should go into every virtual tour with the same energy and mindset that you would if you were there in person. That’s easier said than done, but it’s worth trying to go into this experience with an open mind and positive attitude instead of letting circumstances that aren’t in your control prevent you from making such an important decision. Since the virtual tours are most likely pre-recorded, taking notes and writing down questions is a good way to make sure you aren’t only actively following the tour, but also giving yourself things to keep in mind before making a final decision. One perk that in-person tours don’t offer is that you can watch a virtual tour multiple times, so you won’t have to make a decision based on your memory alone.
Get a student/alumni perspective
In order to make sure you are getting the most accurate version of what a campus is truly like for students, you should compare the virtual tour the school offers to videos and pictures taken by actual students, that way you get more than one perspective of the campus. Being able to see the campus through a student’s eyes, in addition to the HD virtual tour, will give you a good idea of what to expect on a day-to-day basis. If it’s possible, set up an interview with a current student or alumni via video chat, email or phone call, and ask them questions you have after doing a virtual tour. Most schools have Facebook pages dedicated to each graduating class, so finding alumni shouldn’t be too difficult. However, you can also go through the school’s resources to seek out someone to interview.
Be selective with your time
Viewing many virtual tours of your potential schools is the best way to ensure you’re getting the most accurate portrayal of the campus, however, you should refrain from exploring virtual tours of grad schools you didn’t apply to and have no intention on applying to. The internet is a wonderful place and because of it, you can access hundreds of campus tours on one website, which can be very convenient but also very distracting. Do yourself a favor and avoid viewing any virtual tours of schools that you’re not actively considering attending. Again, think of these tours as if you were actually there, you wouldn’t go on a tour of a school you never applied to if you were doing this in person.
This is uncharted territory for everyone. That doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the resources you have. Being able to adapt to change is a skill that will always set you up for success during your future studies.