Seniors and Counselors Share Perspectives on Virtual College Tours

Hobbs Hegedus, Staff Writer

During the pandemic, college admissions have transferred to the digital world. All prospective student information is now online, with colleges recording or streaming interviews, information meetings and campus tours. This new form of college touring brings many new benefits and some consequences.

“Instead of in June driving travel all over the country to view colleges, you can get a sense of what schools are like.” Seattle Prep’s college counselor Ms. Foy stated when asked about the benefit of virtual touring.

With everything online, students are able to look into all options, and not be barred by location, time or money.

“You can now participate from home, and don’t have to worry about flying to campus” said Prep Senior Emily Amesquita.

With everything online, there is a greater access to colleges and to learn about each one. It allows a greater chance to find the best college for each individual, as new websites such as College Express and Unigo help narrow down options based on personality, wants and needs.

With colleges curating all the information, it is hard to understand if they are providing all of the data or choosing to avoid certain truths.

“They may present a one-sided like view of the college, but not like a totally inaccurate depiction… that’s why I think it’s always important for students to do more research.” Ms. Foy commented. However, she believes as long as the interviewee does outside research beforehand they should be able to get the bigger picture.

“On tours they take you to the nicer places, they don’t walk you down the alley by the dumpster.” Ms. Goodwin, another one of Prep’s very own counselors, replied.

Another growing concern is that online tours will be more impersonal and not give the same one on one experience of an in-person tour. “One con of virtual college tours is you miss out on the feeling of personal interaction.” Senior Maya Dawson retorted.

On tours you have one student who guides the viewer around the campus, but with the empty colleges, the student life is non-existent and it’s harder to get a “feel” for the social climate from the student panels onscreen.

When asked if virtual tours can hope to replace in person visits, the consensus from both students and counselors was no. A true sense of the college can only be achieved through traveling to the campus, specifically to observe the classes and student life. While this may be true, the counselors agree that it is a useful tool for narrowing down colleges and creating a shorter list of possible options.

Ms. Goodwin said, “Nothing can replace actually being on campus at some point before you make your decision, but I think they’ll be effective in helping students create their initial college list”.