College Visits: Virtual vs. In-Person

Erica Hayden and America Munoz

On January 20, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 had sprung in the US. Due to the breakout, schools shut down months later, local restaurants went out of business, and everything else came to a halt. It left little room for students, schools and parents to adjust to this change. Within a few months schools came up with an alternative way to connect with students via virtual meetings. Students were encouraged to RSVP dates that best fit their schedule and join remotely with the links provided. Some schools also encouraged students to join by offering free t-shirts with attendance at these meetings. Most virtual meetings went from about 1-3 hours depending on the events. Some events gave general information, a Q&A session and a virtual online campus tour. 

Although this is a great alternative, it lacks the general aspect of what makes a college tour memorable since virtual college tours are also not as fun as an in person college tour. This can cause students to lose focus on the information provided. They could also be distracted by the things around them such as their phone, television, family members or others, and the amount of time students have to stay connected staring at a screen for continuous hours and trying to grasp all the information provided results in an overwhelming experience. Overall I would rate my virtual college experience lower than a real college visit, but I was still grateful for the opportunity to attend the meetings andl for the effort the schools put in to make the best out of a difficult situation. 

Now, some colleges still offer in-person tours with limitations such as a limited number of people, usually four, in a group, and no visitation to certain buildings, such as residence halls and libraries. Our tour guide was very nice, as well as still being informative, even with majors they couldn’t talk about. Since they major in business, they still offered to direct us with their contacts of friends that were in our preferred fields. 

The visit itself was a little over forty-five minutes, not the ideal ending time, as there was so much we could not explore. We still got the chance to go into the computer science building that was open 24/7 to all students, our tour guide was able to briefly show us the building and how many students would averagely be in a classroom. The campus itself had students wandering around, studying, working out, and or hanging out with friends, all while being safe and wearing masks. I for one hate that most students are not able to attend an in-person visit with their dream college or most colleges for that fact. With COVID it is understandable for colleges to be taking more precautions for their students and staff. Yet Marquette had taken our temperatures, asked us the COVID questionnaire, had us wear our masks the whole time. I by no means can say the whole process is one hundred percent effective, but it provides a better sense of normalcy in knowing some things can go back to the way they were. 

Overall I would rate my college visit experience a 10/10 after our tour was over. Our tour guide had given us a variety of restaurants and cafes we would be interested in trying while our time in Wisconsin, we ended up going to an empanada restaurant that was a student favorite. The tour guide had also given their contact information, if we had more questions, or if we were still unsure of our major or the college. Virtual tours cannot form the bonds made at an in-person college visit.

A picture of the grand alumni hall on the other side of campus
A zoom call of Bradley students