The best way to get a feel for a college is to visit, get a tour, and spend time on campus. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible, especially in the days of Covid. Here are some ways to learn about a college from home.
- Virtual Tours – Most people are familiar with college Q&As and virtual tours put on by the school. Some websites that have good virtual tours are You Visit and Campus Tours
- YouTube – A good way to learn about colleges from a student’s point of view is through YouTube Videos. This is going to vary greatly on how informative and helpful it is depending on the video. If you start watching and aren’t thrilled, look for a different video. You are likely to see lived-in dorm rooms, dining hall food, and other aspects of campus life as students take you around. There’s a mix of students trying to make professional videos to students trying to be authentic and showing the behind the scenes tour of the college.
- Student Paper – The school you are interested in most likely has a student newspaper and you are likely to be able to find it online these days. Read a few issues to get an idea of what is important to the students on campus.
- Comparison – Knowing the data and how the school compares to others in areas that matter to you might be helpful. For those questions, I like Niche and College Data. Beware of lists that say “best” of anything – you need to know what criteria they used when they created the list. If their criteria differs from what you want to know, it isn’t a helpful list for your purposes.
- Get in touch – Start by getting in touch with an admissions counselor. If there are college fairs (virtual or in-person) there is often a good point of contact there or look on the school’s website and find out which admissions counselor works with your area. Ask them a few questions you have about the school and ask if you can get in touch with current students or alumni to find out more information.