Last year, I wrote a blog comparing the NCAA college hoops tournament to high school seniors making their college decisions (find the blog here: https://allaboutucc.com/2019/03/24/march-madness/)
This year March Madness has a whole new meaning.
This year high school seniors are making this decision amidst the turmoil surrounding the Coronavirus. With college campuses closing and accepted students day events canceled, students and their parents are faced with making this decision under very different circumstances.
Here are the tips we are sharing with our seniors right now:
- Pay close attention to any emails from the colleges you have been accepted to. Are they offering alternatives to accepted student days? Virtual presentations? Q&A with admissions officers, faculty, student life staff or financial aid officers? If so, sign-up and take part in these virtual events.
- Make a list of outstanding questions you have for each college you are considering. If there are no online opportunities like those described above, email the appropriate department to find your answers. Be patient — colleges are in the midst of making major adjustments regarding academic instruction, housing, etc for their current students.
- While colleges work on creating additional virtual content to replace live visits, utilize virtual tours on the college websites (there is usually a link on the admissions page or google “College Name Virtual Tour”). Videos produced by the college as well as YouVisit and Campus Reel can be helpful in gaining insight and student perspective. Be sure to check the date that independent videos were created. College campuses and academic offerings change frequently so don’t watch content that’s more than 2 years old.
- Some colleges have pushed out the response date (which has traditionally been May 1st) in order to give themselves time to create meaningful online resources, and to give prospective students more time to explore their options. Keep a close eye on the deadline for each college you have been accepted to.
- Reach out via text or DM to current students at the colleges you are considering and ask about their experience. This is a great way to learn about social life, ways to get involved, food, and housing. Some colleges have student ambassadors that can be found on the admissions website. If that’s not an option, ask former students from your high school that attend these colleges.
- Follow the colleges and specific schools/majors/programs within the college on Instagram if you don’t already. Look back to see what types of events, messages and other content they posted this year.
- If you were able to attend a regular campus visit, reflect on your initial impressions of the colleges. Remember how you felt at each. Picture yourself as a student on each campus. Pay attention to your gut instinct — where will you be the happiest, where do you feel you will thrive academically and socially?
- Have confidence that the colleges on your list were all there for a reason. Each one has qualities that make it a good fit for you.
As things progress, colleges will keep their admitted students up-to-date on resources to help them make an informed final decision. Although basketball has been canceled, March Madness continues, and the ball is still in your court.