College Searching During the Pandemic

Paige Ferreira, Reporter

During a pandemic it can be hard for students to find what university they would like to go to, as many colleges are not doing in-person tours. Many colleges are currently having students stay on campus, but doing most classes online. 

According to The New York Times, last updated September 10, UConn has reported 200 cases. With cases rising, many parents and students may not want to visit the campus if there is a risk of infection. I recently visited the UCONN campus, and it was quite empty. When visiting a college campus, you expect to see students walking around, and with the nice weather Storrs is usually bustling with people. But during a pandemic there are few students on campus. UCONN is a large campus with roads and different walkways throughout, I was able to drive around the campus to see each of the buildings from a distance. I was lucky enough to have someone who went to the college with me to act as an unofficial guide. Many students will not have this, with no tours and walk in visits it can be hard to choose where to apply.


With schools not wanting visitors on campus, many universities have made virtual tours more available. Senior Summer Sit has had a hard time researching colleges: “I wasn’t able to go visit… I was able to look at some virtual tours online for a few of them.” Colleges like Penn State and Mount Holyoke have video tours on their websites for students to look at. Sit also used many different college websites like Naviance and College Board to help in her research as well. 


SUNY Oswego is one college that had a full virtual tour for potential applicants to look at. Their website has a Google Maps tour that takes students through a walk on the campus. Each building and hall has audio snippets from a virtual tour guide (a prerecorded explanation of each spot). SUNY isn’t the only school providing virtual tours, powers multiple tours for other universities as well. 


Another senior, Liliana Kramer was able to visit a couple of colleges. One school she visited was Saint Thomas Aquinas College. The visit was possible with many precautions: “you had to get your temperature taken and carry a badge around… saying you got your temperature taken.” Kramer was given a tour by the school’s basketball coach, and she was unsure if the university was actually doing any official tours.


Waterford High’s counseling department is trying to help any students struggling with finding the right college. One counselor, Jason Adler, explained:


“During these uncertain times, seniors applying to colleges face unique challenges compared to their peers from previous graduating classes. Visiting schools is almost an entirely remote exercise. Colleges with large price tags must be looked at with greater scrutiny if they are running all their classes over zoom. The pandemic has significantly impacted the income of many families. For these reasons, amongst many others, it is imperative that college-bound seniors meet with their school counselors as soon as possible. In addition, students are also encouraged to start their financial aid applications by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with their parent/guardian(s). These two actions will set seniors up for more successful outcomes.”


Students are struggling to visit and look into their future school during the pandemic. It is important to research and look into how you can visit your college of choice, whether it be virtually or in person with certain precautions.