Colleges are able to study complex application profiles on the students applying to their school in order to make admission decisions, and normally students are able to study the colleges they are interested in through campus visits, tours, ect. However, this year due to COVID-19 students no longer can rely on campus visits and tours to help them in their college decision making process.
While prospective students can still travel to college campuses and see them, they cannot get the best feel for the school due to COVID-19 restrictions. Normally, one would be able to visit a college campus, sit in information sessions, go on guided tours around campus, meet students, visit buildings/classrooms, see what an average dorm room looks like, and possibly even attend a sports or social event at a particular school. This year that is no longer possible, leaving students with minimal resources that would allow for them to best recognize what they think of the schools they have applied to, and whether or not they want to attend a given school in the future.
I was lucky enough to visit a good amount of college campuses a few years back when my brother was applying to college. I remember it was easy to tell right away if a school appealed to me based on what I saw of student interactions, facilities, programs, ect. Walking onto a campus, there was an immediate idea of what life would be like as a student there, now that idea is much more difficult to find.
Many colleges have provided online resources to help prospective students get to know their school. Virtual campus tours, mock virtual lectures, zoom info sessions, ect. are some of the resources that can be commonly found on college websites. I have found myself watching student youtube videos providing information on what the student life, academic life, and overall experience is like at particular schools. While these resources have been incredibly helpful in getting to know a school on paper, I still can’t help but wish I had the chance to visit a school in its element and see for myself if it felt right, if it felt like somewhere I could see myself for the next four years of my life.