Students begin touring colleges during pandemic
By Hank McSheehy, Reporter
This year, COVID-19 has greatly affected people’s perception of what is “normal.” Today, masks are mandatory, people are social distancing, and everyone is trying to adapt to the rapidly-changing definition of “normal.” One of these changes is how students are touring colleges.
VHS senior Noah Moeckel has started touring colleges, a process that has changed a lot in the last seven months. With no in-person tours, most colleges and universities have been conducting virtual tours.
“When you go onto the college's website, they have a link to go to a virtual tour, and there’s a recording of a student,” Moeckel said. In the recording, students are shown 10 to 15 spots on campus in a 360-degree tour. “The recording of the student will play… they walk you through the history of the building or the campus.” Moeckel said.
Not all colleges and universities use that same technique of helping kids get a better understanding of the school. For UW Seattle, seven short YouTube videos tour different areas of the college campus and provide commentary. But most colleges have stuck with a 360-degree viewing experience. Universities like Oregon State University, Pacific Lutheran University, and the University of Puget Sound have all implemented this method.
VHS has also been preparing students for college selection. Due to difficulties with touring, the counselors at VHS have been giving students a lot of assistance.
“Tours can be an important part of people’s decision-making so… we’ve started a bunch of virtual visits.” VHS counselor Tara Vanselow said. Since this year's college and career fair was cancelled due to COVID-19, the school district has been doing some makeup work with seniors and trying to get some juniors to look into college visits.
Starting this October and through November, VHS has been doing virtual visits with bigger schools that are in the area that most students apply to. “The admissions rep for Vashon High School from those colleges, they’re holding virtual sessions with our students,” Vanselow said. Admissions representatives are the people who read the students’ applications.
Colleges working hard to quickly put out videos online and host virtual visits. A benefit of the new shape that touring has taken is that families who previously could not visit potential schools due to constraints on time or money are now able to do so from the comfort of their own home.
“It’s certainly nicer to be able to go in person and see not just a college… [but] to be able to walk into a dorm room… it’s sort of tricky to see a setting that fits you.” Moeckel said.