Virtual tours inadequately replace college tour experience


Dominican College

Dominican colleges walking virtual tour. Students are being forced to base their college decision on a simple video like this one.

Charlotte Smith '21, Staff Writer

Between Spring break, prom, college decision day and graduation, this time of year is packed with important social events for students. The coronavirus has caused a push for social distancing and self-quarantines, meaning most of these milestone affairs have been canceled.

The closures of most American universities and switch to online school means no college tours for high school juniors and seniors. Although colleges have offered virtual tours online, this is not an effective way to assess a school where you are spending the next four years of your life.

With the pressure of college applications looming in the near distance, the second semester of junior year is known to be one of the most stressful couple of months. Balancing taking standardized tests, getting good grades and participating in extracurriculars, the workload can be challenging for many kids.

Now with the coronavirus locking everyone in their homes, how are juniors supposed to even know where they want to apply for college? One of the most crucial aspects of the college process is visiting schools prior to applications. This gives students a sense of what they like and dislike: big or small classes, open or closed campus, preferred location and in general, if they could see themselves there for the next four years.
These last-minute tour cancelations are leaving colleges with no choice but to resort to virtual tours. Although a virtual tour allows students to see the exterior of the campus, it lacks the in-person experience that permits students from creating a real first impression.

For me, college tours aren’t superficial; tours are about how I feel when I’m walking around. I need to see what students are up to, and if I could see myself fitting in there. When deciding on the perfect fit for you, online tours are simply insufficient.

Additionally, seeing the town surrounding a school is pivotal. A university could check everything off my ideal list, but if the college town feels vacant or dreary, I would feel like it has a missing piece. Some students feel most comfortable moving to a neighborhood that is similar to their neighborhoods at home but with touring a school virtually, it’s impossible to see what the town is like and if it fits your needs.

Virtual tours are simply not enough to decide on where you want to go to school. Only seeing a school online could make students decide to go to the wrong school for them. Because of this, colleges need to push back their application dates. This way, students will have enough time to go tour all of their top schools in person so they can assure that they chose the right one for them.