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How to Make College Decisions When Campuses Are Closed

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Ms. Zolkos reassures students awaiting notifications, “We will enroll, as planned, a typical class of 473 incoming first-year students,” and the admissions staff encourages prospective students to visit the college website, take a virtual tour, and learn more about student life by reading the student blogs linked there.

At the Ohio State University, although all undergraduate admissions visits and on-campus recruitment events scheduled through April 20 were canceled, Beth A. Wiser, executive director of undergraduate admissions, said Friday that a skeleton crew was still in the office to greet walk-in prospective students. Virtual webinars with admitted students were in the works, she said, and the admissions staff planned to add more opportunities for in-person visits for juniors when that’s once again possible.

[From 2017: Skipping the College Tour]

For a less biased contact than the college admissions office can offer, mine your personal virtual networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn to find and connect with enrolled students or alumni to learn more about a school. Email or message to set up a time to chat over FaceTime, Skype or even an old-fashioned phone call. As a bonus, you’ll have a contact no one paid to peddle the school, who can provide candid, useful information you’d never hear in an official information session.

Many schools offer virtual campus tours — whether elaborate virtual reality experiences, videos or slide shows — where you’ll find images that can give you a feel for what a campus looks like and highlight what each college holds dear. Dig further, and you’ll find admissions blogs, podcasts and links to follow a school on social media. You may also find free access to the school newspaper that covers events, sports, politics and opinions of real students.

While juniors may have future options for college visits, seniors will need to make a final decision as best they can with the tools available, including their gut instinct. When admitted students are having a tough time choosing among colleges, it usually means that any of their finalists could work out well. Remember that once you have made your choice, you have the power to arrive on campus with a great attitude and make your college experience your perfect fit.

Jill Margaret Shulman is a college essay coach and the author of “College Admissions Cracked: Saving Your Kid (and Yourself) From the Madness.”


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