No Camas High School Senior imagined that the college tours they would take this year would be over a Zoom call, but that has become the new normal. As stressful as it all is to navigate, students and universities both have dysfunctionally found their way around the obstacle that is the COVID-19 pandemic. Some states are open to campus tours but some are strictly online. However, either option fails to give students the truly immersive experience they would receive without Covid.
Most universities recommend virtual tours. Some tours are pre-recorded videos and some are Zoom calls where the campus is toured virtually.
CHS Senior Elsie Ferber had a different experience with the University of Oregon’s virtual tour.
She said ¨Some colleges like the University of Oregon have actually come up with really fun ways to visit the campus virtually. They sent me cardboard virtual reality glasses that worked really well and are a great way to get an immersive experience when in-person tours aren’t really offered.¨
Other college virtual tours are not as interesting as the one done by the University of Oregon. Many students are struggling with not having the fully immersive experience of a normal in-person tour.
CHS Senior Ingrid Larsen said, “The virtual events were very informational, but after a while, they all started to sound the same, which confused me even more. Most of the information that was presented was stuff that I had already learned about by just researching the college or looking around their website.”
CHS Senior Brooke Brustad said, “I’ve tried a couple of virtual tours and was not a huge fan of them. Sometimes they are very confusing to navigate and they don’t give you a feel for the campus like an in-person to or does. They feel very superficial and are not very in-depth.”
It is not shocking that most students feel this way and to top it all off they do not even know what the coming year will look like.
With the ever-changing Covid regulations plus the differences in regulations from state to state, no one knows how next year will look.
Larsen said, “The schools that are not offering in-person visits yet have caused me to reconsider whether or not I want to attend this school next year. A year of online high school has been difficult for me so I’m much more interested in the colleges that are more open rather than the ones that are still locked down because I would like to attend in-person classes next year as much as possible. I much prefer the in-person tours being able to walk around the campus is super important.”
Brustad said, “A very important part of choosing a college is the feel of the campus and the students there. At some colleges, there were barely any students so it’s hard to tell what campus life was like.”
She added, “When I visited ASU before COVID-19 there were kids roaming around who looked happy and that encouraged me to want to go there. But, when I went back during COVID-19 there were no students anywhere and it had such a depressing feel. It also gives me a look into how they will handle covid-19 next year too.”
Many CHS students are having the same fears, worries, and frustrating feelings towards this experience.
CHS Senior Piper Stroh said, “I feel like I’m not getting the full experience, I’m scared that I won’t feel like the school I take is going to be the best fit for me. In-person is so much better because it’s more of immersing, education and gives you more freedom to wander around the school.”
CHS Senior Emerson Speas said, “I went to Colorado State at the end of January which was intentional because they had just started doing in-person classes again, so I was able to see kids on campus. I walked around with my mom around the campus kind of on our own which was nice. But, I wish I could have gone into dorms and had seen more but I was glad to get some glimpse of campus.”
A return to normal life and an amazing freshman year of college for the class of 2021 is looking brighter every day as the schools stay hopeful for the future and push to reopen.