Ceesay: Virtual college visits lose connection


Luke Chesser, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Virtual college visits have taken away the connections students form by visiting in person.

Hangila Ceesay, Staff Writer

This past year, many students have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. For high school juniors and seniors, this presented the issue of finding the right college to attend without being able to see prospective schools in person. Many colleges began to offer virtual campus visiting sessions to give students an outlook of what the school would provide for them if they were to attend, but these visits only give students a surface-level glimpse on what the school could potentially be like. 

Though virtual campus visits are the safest way to give people some insight into the environment of a school during the pandemic, they are not sufficient enough to help those who are genuinely interested in attending a certain university.  Instead, colleges should slowly reintroduce the option of doing in-person tours and possibly offer smaller and more thorough virtual sessions to give applicants a detailed view of the school while maintaining a level of safety during the pandemic. Allowing students to have a more intimate and in-depth visit will give them more insight into the school, while also giving them the chance to ask questions and determine whether they can see themselves attending the school. 

Because they are conducted through video calls, these college tours can become more impersonal. Potential applicants are not engaged enough to see if a certain college is somewhere they could see themselves attending. Rather, they have to make their choice based on the snippets of the college they are being shown through the video call. Students could also be given a tour that is not representative of how actual college students would describe the school. This false representation of the school could cause people to think the school would suit them well, but they may feel very differently if they viewed the institution in person. 

Some may say that virtual college tours are more accessible and convenient. While this may be true for most, they only give a one-dimensional view of a college. Because there may not be a lot of time to fully elaborate on what the student life, academics, and residential experience is like, some students may develop unrealistic expectations for a school that are not met if they chose to attend that school. This could also contribute to a false sense of what a school will be like, leaving the student to feel as if the school is not somewhere they could see themselves continuing their education. 

Attending college is one of the main goals for students at MSMS. This means doing adequate research for the schools they choose to apply to, which can include going on college tours. It can be difficult to find time to tour colleges, and it may be unsafe to do so in the midst of a pandemic, so students are starting to take advantage of the virtual college tours that are available; however, the fact that these tours may not provide in-depth information about colleges  could cause students to apply to fewer colleges because they are unsure if certain schools are the right fit for them. 

Overall, virtual college visits have certain benefits, such as being more time- and cost-efficient. However, the pros of virtual college visits are outweighed by its cons when it comes to the people who are seriously considering attending the college. Virtual college tours tend to be more impersonal and only provide a very basic overview of the school. It can be more difficult for students to decide if they want to apply to a college because they may not have much information based on the visit they had with the school to decide whether it is a match for them or not. Allowing some students to have the option to tour in-person will allow them to physically see whether they could see themselves attending the school. However, having the option of virtual tours with only a few people would be the safest and most efficient option during this time; it will keep people safe, but also give applicants the most information to determine if a college is right for them.