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Choosing a College in a Virtual World

Exploring booths at college fairs, meeting college reps at your high school, and planning road trips to tour colleges are some common rites of passage for the traditional college search. But how should students learn about colleges when travel or in-person meetings aren’t an option? Virtually—of course! Naturally, the internet makes researching colleges easier than ever before, but here are some tips to help you use online resources to your advantage!

Follow social media accounts for universities you’re curious about. You can always unfollow them later, but this is a great way to keep up-to-date on the latest news from universities. Plus, it gives you a sense of what the college community is like—what students are talking about, what moments or achievements the university celebrates, and how the college responds to current events. You may even find specific Admission Office accounts that will have the information and student perspectives you’re most interested in, like Cap Admission’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.

Explore websites for the universities AND the cities surrounding them. Do some digging to see if you can find virtual campus tours, informational videos, or blogs to give you a better sense of what the university is like. But don’t stop there. If you can’t visit in person, make sure to research the surrounding town or city that the college calls home since that is where you’d be living for the next four years. Capital students have lots of opportunities for internships and fun places to explore off-campus since the university is just 10 minutes from downtown Columbus.

Schedule virtual visits. Whether you’re considering colleges that are far away or don’t want to visit in person yet, signing up for a virtual conversation and tour is a good next step after doing some initial research. Virtual visit options have become more common as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and you can take advantage of this opportunity to speak with admission counselors and current students without leaving your house! You can even use virtual visits as a way to decide which colleges you want to visit again in person to learn more.

Reach out and ask questions. The Admission Office at every university has staff and student workers who are happy to tell you more about the university and answer questions. They can also connect you with other people you may want to speak to, such as coaches for the college’s athletics teams, professors in your desired academic program, and staff in specialized offices like Disability Services or Academic Success.

Research your interests and potential career paths. It’s easier to start conversations with admission counselors or professors when you have some idea of what you’re looking for in a college, but figuring out what is most important to you requires some reflection. Consider taking an online personality or career test to identify your interests. If your school uses Naviance, you likely have access to versions of these tests already, but you may want to ask your guidance counselor for other resources. 16Personalities offers a free personality test that gives feedback on your workplace habits and the types of roles you may find most interesting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website allows you to search potential careers by occupation type, fastest growing fields, and salary. Spending some time reflecting on your passions, skills, and life goals will help you find a college that fits your needs.