How to Get to Know a College Campus from Afar

Casey Monahan
Casey Monahan

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College tours canceled? Here are some tips to virtually scope out the campuses to finalize your college list from home. Get to know a college campus from afar, without missing out.

You’re making your college list and you have plans to visit a good number of the campuses you’re considering. But then a pandemic breaks out and all the campuses are closed. How are you going to finalize your college list now? How can you be sure that you’re applying to the places you actually want to go to?

There isn’t an easy answer to this question, but here’s some advice that could help.

Campus across the country, absent of students and faculty, feel barren. What should you do?

Start by deciding what exactly you’re looking for.

When you’re making your college list, you should start by deciding what exactly you want out of your college experience. Do you want a big school or a small one? Private or public? How important are athletics? What do you plan on studying? Do you want to be close to home?

Write down all these criteria and make a chart. Then start looking at what schools align with your priorities. This will really help you get a stronger sense of what you want—and what schools have those elements. Even when you are working to get to know a college campus from a distance, this will help you know what you’re looking for.

Talk to your counselor.

With so many schools out there, the perfect school for you might be one you haven’t even heard of yet. This is why it’s so important to reach out to experts on the matter early on in the process. Ask them for suggestions and their opinions on specific schools.

Need a place to start? Empowerly counselors have both depth and breadth of knowledge about schools all over the country, and even the world. They can give you a fresh perspective on all of your options—even the ones you may not have considered before.

Attend virtual tours.

To replace the old campus tours, many schools have created several online tools to allow you to experience campus, such as through virtual tours. You can even try Google maps to digitally “walk” around the campus buildings. This is a great way to get an idea of the school’s general ideologies and what’s important to them. Therefore, you can get to know a college campus with digital eyes. Check school websites to see what other options are available. Some have programs that connect you with current undergraduates or alumni that can give you an insider perspective!

Read the campus newspaper.

Most schools have an online platform for their campus newspaper. You can read or even just glance through it to see what social and educational activities happen regularly on campus. You get a feel for the values of the student body, what sorts of clubs are active, and even what sorts of difficulties students deal with. Some school papers even have Youtube channels you can check out if you don’t feel like reading. However, our next advice is…

Do some good old-fashioned research.

When you research a school, there’s a lot of information readily available to you. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, and not all websites are credible. If you want a single source where you can find everything you want to know (from a place you can trust), check out our Digital Toolkit school search option. Sign up for a free consult to talk about getting registered, and read away to your heart’s content. Not only does each school profile provide you with statistics, demographics, and general information about the institution, you can also click deeper in to find out what aspects of the college application are most important to their admissions office, and what kind of student they hope to admit. As they say, knowledge is power—collect all that you can.

Reach out to high school alumni.

Your friends and connections are a great resource. Reach out to high school alumni who are now going to schools that you are interested in. Ask them what a day in the life is like. They’re most likely to give you their honest opinion on what student life is really like without all the glamour that the school advertises. Ask them what they think you should investigate to get to know a college campus well. If you want to talk to somebody at a school you don’t have any friends at, you can talk to your high school counselor to see if they can provide the contact information of alumni or current students.

Watch YouTube videos.

There are a lot of resources made by students themselves, giving their honest opinions on the schools they attend, and sharing what campus life consists of during a standard day or semester. You can check out vlogs on Youtube or even blog posts as well. Remember, though, that one individual’s experience may be completely different from another’s—so don’t go off of just one Youtube video to decide whether it’s a yay or nay.

Weigh the pros and cons.

Now that you have some schools in mind and have an idea of what you want, it’s time to really start to narrow down that list. Make a pros and cons list for each school and create a number for each element. How good the reputation is for the major you want to study might be a 3, while good cafeteria food might be a 1. Add up the pros and then subtract the cons from the list. This sounds like a lot of work, but it will rank the schools for your specific preferences and save you a lot of time trying to rule out schools later.

Group of young college students sitting on grass in the park

Whether or not you get to physically visit your schools, you can still find plenty of information to go on.

And there you have it! Now you have a good list of resources to consult when narrowing down your college list to ensure that you’re on the right track to finding your best fit school. If you want to know more about your options or want to consult an expert, book a free consult here today. We’re happy to talk with you about how to navigate your college search with ease.

Questions? Let us know!