Visiting college virtually

College deadlines force students to choose schools without traditional experiences.

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Senior Jack Holmes takes a virtual tour of his Brown University campus in place of an in-person visit due to COVID-19. — Jack Holmes

Walking onto the campus of your dream school, butterflies dance across your stomach. You look around to see other new students who are just as curious as you are. You take your seat in the auditorium, as an administrator stands at the podium. When released, you venture to different information tables. In the main hall, you join a group, and a student leader takes you on a tour around the campus. This is a prospective student experience many college campuses offer, an experience high school students are now missing due to COVID-19.

Many students had delayed visiting schools until after they received their acceptance letters — most of which came in late March. With the May 1 deadline having come and gone — the date by which most seniors have to commit to a college — many Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) seniors in the midst of choosing a college have had to adapt to the current COVID-19 restrictions by choosing a school without having attended a typical admitted students day or similar on-campus events.

Many of those events include campus tours and Q and As with faculty and students of the college. With the majority of colleges being closed and in-person events being cancelled, students are left to choose their schools based either on information they already have or information that colleges share with them through online resources.

Still, colleges are struggling with uncertainty just as much as high school seniors. Senior Vivian Surprenant, who will be attending the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, said, “[The school sends] emails mostly regarding the classes that are currently in session [and how classes] have been cut for the rest of the semester, and they are not really sure what they are going to do next year. They have been sending emails like ‘here is who to contact if you need help with this’ or ‘here is who to contact if you need help with that.’”

In addition to the email updates, schools have also been using other online platforms to communicate with students and to familiarize them with the school and its campus. Annabelle Thomas, who will be attending Bridgewater State University in the fall, said, “I’ve been on multiple tours and info sessions through Zoom and in other measures of communication with Bridgewater. They’re very helpful, and the administration is making sure that students know what’s going on and being as helpful as possible.”

According to its website, Bridgewater State University has also moved its Accepted Student Friday events online, so students still have a chance to get to know their school. The Accepted Student Fridays are events that allow those who have been accepted to the school to become better acquainted with the school as well as with other students.

Chloe Hoff will be attending the University of Vermont in the fall. “Even before [the coronavirus] happened, I [put off] visiting schools until after I got accepted,” she said, “so I was relying on the last month or two to go visit schools. Since I waited so long, I’ve been unable to visit any of my schools in person, unfortunately.”