Visiting gone virtual

With many colleges and universities distanced campus, many seniors and some juniors have had to start planning their next four years, but virtually.

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Danielle Blyn, Sports Editor

The deadline for prospective college students to apply to most colleges (early action or early decision that is) just passed on Nov. 1. However, the process for applying and touring these colleges was quite different this year due to many colleges not being on campus because of COVID-19. Many colleges have changed their standards because of the pandemic and as a result, have shortened planning time for students. 

When applying for colleges, most optimistic students are able to visit different colleges and get to see the layout of the school. On most college visits, potential freshmen are also able to meet students who are living on campus and learn more about college life, both academically and socially. 

“Obviously a virtual college tour won’t be the same, but I think it can definitely help if you’re a student who thrives in a specific environment. You want to make sure wherever you end up going is a good fit for you,” junior Alysea Loreto commented. 

With the pandemic, many colleges have had to move their visits to be virtual since non-students aren’t allowed on campuses. While this makes looking at colleges much more difficult, another massive change for students has been whether or not they wanted to go out of state or stay close. 

For some, the decision to stay in state was an easy one that had already been made. For others who were planning on going further away, it left them with something to think about. Some students didn’t want to live with not being able to see their families for the holidays, as many schools are since students would have to quarantine and miss classes again. 

Though college visits are a vital part of every high school experience, many students have said that tours, especially during COVID, have done very little to move a school up or down a list. 

This statement is distinctly true for virtual tours, where you often are unable to meet students and see how they live their lives on the campus. When doing a usual tour, juniors and seniors are able to meet college students from different majors and places on campus to learn more about the school from a student’s perspective, rather than an administrator’s. 

Students were discussing whether or not they wanted to stay in state or go further away for college based on COVID and traveling restrictions. They often said that they were already looking at in-state colleges, such as the UCs. Out of state colleges were often just emails that were received when they were juniors. 

And though many colleges, especially California colleges, are no longer requiring SAT and ACT scores, many juniors and seniors are still taking the tests as a way to improve their applications and make theirs stand out against others. 

“They’re important for scholarships. A college will probably pick the person with a good GPA and SAT score rather than just an SAT score,” senior Annie Dillon remarked. 

There was also the recent college fair that of years past that have often helped juniors, seniors and even sophomores narrow down their lists of which colleges to apply to. This is often based on people they meet at the fair, who are often college students, alumni or admissions officers. 

Applying for colleges is always stressful and usually relies on a good visit, and based on that talk with a student or admissions administrator. But now, in the times of COVID, the decision process has changed greatly due to changes in how tours and different colleges can run.