By this time, you’re well aware that the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has emerged as a serious global threat. Fears of the spread have affected gatherings of all sizes around the country, from large events such as SXSW and Coachella, to small gatherings of students in elementary, middle and high school. In addition to high schools closing, SATs & ACTs have been cancelled and/or testing centers have changed locations. As the situation continues to evolve, colleges and universities across the country are taking action to protect students, faculty and staff on campus. Many have already moved to remote (online) instruction to prevent the movement of students across campus, others have asked students to return home for the rest of the semester.

As a result of COVID-19 fears, many universities have also put campus visits, information sessions and tours on hold. You can find a full break down of cancellations and alternative plans here. If you and your family already had plans to visit colleges during your upcoming spring break, you should check with each college and university to ensure they are still open to visitors. Many highly selective universities have cancelled admissions-related activities such as HarvardMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyStanford UniversityNew York UniversityUniversity of PennsylvaniaYale University and more in highly threatened regions.

So what can your child do to learn more about a university, interact with students and faculty and demonstrate interest without stepping foot on campus? Here are some tips on how to stay involved with the college search process, virtually:

  • Sign up for the admissions newsletter. Not only will this help you stay apprised of admissions statistics, important updates and information about the university, but you’ll also be one of the first to know once the school is open to visitors again.
  • Chat with student ambassadors via email. On almost every admissions website, you’ll find a section for “Student Ambassadors.” These are students who have volunteered to share their experiences on campus with prospective students. Generally you’ll see a photo, some information about the student and an email address. Any contact you have with those students will be passed along to the admissions office, so this is a great way to demonstrate your interest in the university. Examples from Williams College & Harvard University.
  • Do a virtual tour. Virtual tours have always been available to students (international students will already know this), but now they are more useful than ever. Each school will have a link to the virtual tour on their website, but you can access hundreds of virtual tours through YouVisit. Simply search for the university you’d like to tour, enter your contact information (very important so the school can document your interest) and get going!
  • Email your admissions representative. Each region of the country has its own dedicated college admissions officer. After you spend time exploring a college’s website, write down some questions you might have and aspects you enjoy about the college, then navigate to the admissions office contact page and find your state’s representative. This email communication will allow you to demonstrate your interest in that particular university.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, we hope to serve as a source of support and information.

About the author
Amanda San Román

Amanda earned a BA in rhetoric from Bates College, where she was a Senior Admissions Fellow, responsible for interviewing applicants and leading information sessions. She continues to conduct alumni interviews both in-person and virtually. Amanda manages communication and partnership efforts for AcceptU by facilitating webinars, events, email marketing and technology management.

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