Students discuss 2021 college visit adaptations

Senior+Elijah+Redington+poses+for++quick+photo+while+visiting+the+University+of+Iowa.

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Senior Elijah Redington poses for quick photo while visiting the University of Iowa.

Elly Green, Reporter

Due to the ongoing pandemic, college visits for high school students have taken a direct hit. Some universities have decided to take extra precautions while allowing students on campus for tours, however, others have gotten rid of in-person visits altogether and have put together new formats of online tours for potential students.

Seniors Anthony Wedel and Elijah Redington have both gotten the chance to experience in person and online college visits at different universities. Wedel visited Liberty University in person, which was his only in person college visit he was able to attend. Liberty University offers a multiple day event where visitors in recent years would stay in dorms with current students. Due to COVID-19 precautions still in effect this application season, visiting students would have to find their own individual housing in order to stay at the event. This, along with common prevention practices were implemented for a slightly normal trip for Wedel. 

“They also limited the number of people that could attend information sessions and masks were required inside buildings,” Wedel said. 

For Redington, he was able to attend tours at Kansas State University, the University of Kansas and the University of Iowa all in person. Redington noted that going to an in-person visit will always be important over online visits. For example, Redington said that he was very impressed with the University of Kansas’ virtual tour, however when he went there for an in-person visit he felt that the atmosphere was not right for him.

[The college tour] was the kind of thing you could only experience if you are on campus,” Redington said. “Any virtual tour is always going to be portraying a university in the best possible light, but the overall vibe of feeling you get when you’re ultimately on campus makes a world of difference.” 

Wedel visited Western Michigan, Northeastern University and Boston University online. Wedel shared similar feelings to Redington, that it was not as easy to become comfortable and familiar with a college if the visit was online.

“I feel like for the schools I visited online it was hard for me to get a grasp of their programs, but the in person visit I had was still great and I am so grateful that I was able to attend,” Wedel said. 

Redington visited several colleges online, some being; the University of Northern Colorado, the University of Nebraska, Washburn University, Vanderbilt University and Drake University. While Wedel did not feel compelled to quit researching certain colleges due to their performance or lack thereof from their online college visits, Redington said that some colleges’ virtual tours gave him enough information to take them off of his list.

“[The online visits] were helpful in that I did not need to take hours traveling to a campus just to find out I wouldn’t like it,” Redington said. “I still strongly advocate for making an on campus visit before making your final decision.”
Another newly important piece of information every new college student is looking at is how the college in question reacted to the pandemic. Redington said that colleges who made little to no change or untimely decisions to their schools’ way of life in reaction to the pandemic made him hesitant to continue looking at that particular college. Wedel said that he saw changes being made to the schools he was checking out that he felt were COVID-19 efficient. 

“[Responses about the pandemic] were pretty mixed with the students I talked to. Some thought they didn’t do enough, others thought they were doing too much and were taking away their freedom,” Wedel said. 

Redington describes his online college visits as differing from college to college. He said that Vanderbilt offered a self guided tour that he explains almost felt like a google maps tour. After, there was a question and answer portion. However Northern Colorado University had current students give a tour and provide information but would only show pictures of the buildings they were talking about. Redington said that there was only one practice of online visits that all colleges participated in.

“Every college, whether offering in person or virtual tours did a great job at providing zoom meetings on topics ranging from financial aid, to housing, to extracurriculars,” Redington said. “The one-on-one meetings available were also extremely helpful in the college search process.” 

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