Colleges attempt to recreate an in-person experience for prospective students


Matthew Rice / CC BY-SA

Many colleges are holding virtual information sessions for prospective students.

Kate McElhinney, News Editor

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students have been unable to visit their colleges of interest. Many colleges made adjustments to ensure students have the available resources to make the right choice. However, many students feel that, although the efforts are appreciated, nothing can replace in-person tours and informational sessions.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, an institution with campuses in Fla. and Ariz., visited MSMS on Wednesday, Sept. 30, and offered information about admissions and academics at the university. Eric Wilson, the admissions representative that visited, felt the pandemic has negatively affected some aspects of the outreach process because school counselors receive more emails than usual.

“We’ve been doing a lot more high school visits than in the past, and virtually of course. As a result, it leaves it up to the high school counselors more so than in the past to schedule college visits to their schools and to somehow let students know when those colleges will be meeting with their high school,” Wilson said. “Students, and most of society really, have been inundated with emails and all kinds of virtual notifications and requests, so not as many people get the invitations as they maybe would under normal circumstances.”

Many students attend the virtual sessions in the hope of gaining something similar to an on-campus tour, like a video or interactive website tour. However, nothing can simulate the feeling of being on campus for the first time, and senior Shanay Desai shared his thoughts on the subject.

“Although I feel like colleges have done everything they can to replicate an in-person tour, I still feel a bit unprepared for college admission,” Desai said. “Nothing, in my opinion, is able to replace the college visit, but with the current COVID-19 circumstances, I feel that the info sessions are all that we have guiding our future college decisions.” 

On a brighter side, some colleges that would not have been able to attend the college fair that the Trotter Convention Center holds each year have the opportunity to meet with MSMS students virtually. Wilson discussed that Embry-Riddle would not have connected with MSMS at the college fair due to travel costs, even though MSMS is an important school for them.

“We probably wouldn’t be able to make it to an in-person fair since it’s a long way to travel for just one event. To justify the travel costs, we usually would try to group together a few events and/or in-person high school visits,” Wilson said. “Understandably, that has limited us in our physical travel to other states and various high schools, so virtual high school visits are one of the main ways to reach out to students during this time.”

Additionally, the University of Chicago, a liberal arts college in Chicago, Ill., virtually visited MSMS on Monday, Oct. 5. While the number of participants was higher than Embry-Riddle’s session, students like junior Raeed Kabir felt that it still was not the same as it would be in person.

“I’ve attended a lot of virtual programs and done lots of research already, and I still am hesitant as to which school is my number one because I would need to be on the campus to really understand the feel for it,” Kabir said. “In my opinion, colleges can never really adequately showcase their schools through webinars because they all start to run together and become identical. I would say that colleges are doing their best, but there’s only so much one can do.”