Tyler.Virtual College Tours.Reduced.hands typing 2With college campuses shutting down nationwide due to concerns about coronavirus, the annual spring break college tours have fallen by the wayside.

Juniors who were hoping to visit colleges this spring, however, now have ample time on their hands — with most high schools closed — to investigate the schools they’re interested in online. Students can gain a wealth of information by researching colleges from home and may end up learning exactly what they would have heard if they had attended an information session on campus.

Here are some ways students can explore colleges without stepping foot on campus:

1. Take a tour on the college website. Many colleges offer virtual tours that highlight the key buildings on campus — the same landmarks students would see on a college tour. Some schools, including Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon and University of Rochester, are also offering virtual information sessions. Students should look at the web pages of the departments they’re interested in majoring in and check out any blogs current students have written on the college’s website.

2. Connect with the local college representative. Most schools have an admissions counselor assigned to different regions of the country. Students can call the college admissions office and get the name and contact information of the representative assigned to their area. They should then contact that person to see if he or she is planning to visit. If no visits are scheduled, students can ask the representative questions about the school. One good opening question: Are there any new initiatives on campus?

3. Use social media to connect to the college. Students should visit and like the social media pages of colleges on their list so they can be updated about issues on campus. Colleges track who is visiting their social media pages and use this information to determine which students are interested in their school.

4. Join a chat group. Many colleges offer a chat forum where high school students can talk to current students and ask them questions about campus. Students should check the admissions page on the website to see if chat groups are available.

5. Block out time at the end of summer for college tours. It’s always better to visit a college when the school is in session so students can experience the vibe of the campus. So if college campuses reopen this summer, students should wait until the beginning of fall semester in late August or during any of the fall holidays to reschedule a tour.

While most colleges and universities are not allowing visitors of any kind of campus, students can use this down time to research the colleges they’re interested in. This will give them a jumpstart in narrowing down the list of schools they’ll want to tour when the threat of the coronavirus dies down.

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