COVID-19 Creates a Challenge for Seniors Picking Colleges

Michelle Zhou, Staff Writer

They stepped on campus and felt the potential of their future lying underneath their feet. “Yes, this is the one.” They knew this was the place for them and taking a tour around the college just pulled them in even more. However, that was in 2019, before COVID-19.

As you enter the first few steps of adulthood, choosing the college you want to attend is arguably one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Amid the pandemic, college tours are proving harder for many schools turned to virtual college tours instead. 

Schools have paused in-person visits due to the pandemic which affected many events this year. Virtual tours are the only way campuses can follow safety precautions. Unfortunately, this issue calls for many barriers during the college decision process. “I think virtual college tours have made it harder for me to form opinions about some of the colleges that I’m interested in applying to. I don’t have a strong idea of what it would be like to be on their campuses, so I have a harder time figuring out whether I’d actually like to attend those schools,” senior Cara Holden said. 

Visiting campuses allows applicants to get a visual imagery of a dorm or a classroom. However, with the pandemic, students are limited to the full insight of the college. “I don’t think you can easily replace the feel of the college in a virtual world.  When you are in-person you can eat in the dining hall, check out the campus newspaper, and interact with students walking around.  All of this is important in answering the question, ‘can I see myself on this campus?’” College and Career Advisor Stephanie Brady said. 

Virtual tours can not replace the feelings you get when visiting a school in person. There’s no way to supplement that excitement you get when entering the campus in-person. Although many institutions have ramped up their virtual offerings, it can be hard to get a true feel of the campus and the culture,” Brady said. “Beyond the obvious fact that you don’t get to actually see the campus, it’s really hard to get a sense of the overall atmosphere of the college online,” Holden said.

Many students are finding it hard to narrow down the schools they want to go to. “I don’t know where to apply because I don’t know where I’ll fit in,” junior Dominic Clerici said.

With the advancement of technology, colleges can stimulate most live interactions similar to in-person tours. Many websites including or allow students to visit colleges virtually. “Virtual tours have been updated and offer more insight into colleges, including: student panels, professor panels, and specific department tours which are great,” Brady said. Additionally, students don’t need to travel too far making out of state colleges easier to tour especially when driving or going on a flight isn’t the safest option this year. Typically, May 1 is the deadline for when students can decide which college they want to attend in the fall, but many schools have extended that date to June 1.

Hopeful to narrow down your college decisions, you can plan out a road trip to visit each campus. As excited as you are to visit your dream or maybe even future school, COVID-19 hits with a different plan, virtual college tours.