How COVID-19 has affected college tours

Seniors struggle to see themselves at prospective schools due to the cancellation of in-person tours


A screenshot of the Pratt Institute’s prospective student page, which shows its cancellation of in-person tours

Jadaa Cruz, Staff Writer

Since March of 2020, college tours have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some universities were either open to the public or closed to prevent the spread of COVID on their campus. However, most RV students continued to persevere with college tours during this unusual pandemic. 

Senior Jenna Tomasch utilized her free time in the months of September and November to view the schools she aspired to attend. Nonetheless, she was unable to schedule tours because they were closed due to the pandemic. Therefore, she completed informal tours, which consisted of walking around campuses and attempting to find particular buildings. 

“[My family and I] looked at maps ourselves and told ourselves what we were looking at,” said Tomasch. Luckily, Tomasch had a glimpse of a normal tour at the University of Delaware because her mother is an alumna. “[My mom] pointed out the buildings she had classes in… Her knowledge pushed me more to want to go to UD.”

However, the rest of Tomasch’s college tours were less successful than her campus tour at Delaware. 

“Once I walked around [the campus of Pratt University],” stated Tomasch, “…I already kinda decided I wasn’t…going to go to Pratt…because I didn’t really get to see the place– it did not edge me on to want to go…”

On the Pratt admissions website, it stated that “All on-campus visits, including campus tours… are suspended until further notice due to the Coronavirus.”

Additionally, Tomasch admitted her experience with touring Pratt University was “frustrating” and “it didn’t really help” her. The lack of accessibility for tours resulted in her eliminating Pratt as a school to commit to.

Tomasch missed out on “seeing a dorm… and seeing people on the campus” because of the deadly pandemic. 

Jilyan Lane, a Westfield High School guidance counselor, expressed her sympathy for the class of 2021 because they have the inability to visit the school of their choice. 

“I understand why most of my students are stressed out from selecting a college to attend,” she said. “Once they choose a school, there is a possibility that the kids could spend thousands of dollars in tuition for a school that they barely know.”

Meanwhile, Lane encourages students to take the opportunity of completing virtual college tours if the campus is closed. 

“Many students ask me ‘What should I do?’ I simply tell them to utilize Naviance and complete virtual tours through the website. I also tell them to keep an open mind because it’s not going to be the same as an in person tour.”

If students decide to take part in virtual college tours, Lane advise them to watch tours hosted by students.

“In my opinion, virtual tours provided by the current students at the school is the best option. It gives them a glimpse of college life from a student point of view, instead of an administrator.”

Besides student-run virtual tours, Lane recommends her students to join social networking sites. For example, Facebook offers a multitude of groups for incoming students to get know others at the college.

“…connect with other students in the groups,” said Lane. “[The students] can share their fears and excitements about the college they want to attend…There’s a big chance that they are not the only ones experiencing the same emotions.”

COVID accelerated the implementation of new protocols regarding the safety of current and aspiring students. However, the modification resulted in the absence of the experience of traditional in-person college tours; visiting resident halls, watching current students walk to class and envisioning graduating the next four years. 

“…remember to relax as much as possible while completing college tours, even if its not the experience they desired it to be,” Lane advised. “Hopefully, in the summer, more campuses will allow college tours–in the meantime, students should take advantage of the virtual tours, connection groups, and informational sessions given by the school of their dreams.”