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Choosing a college during a global pandemic?

3 tips to choose the right school for you.

You did it! After four long-awaited years, it’s finally your turn to walk across the field or stage, turn the tassel, and receive that piece of parchment you’ve worked so hard to achieve. You’ve not only faced the normal challenges of high school, but you did it during a global pandemic. As senior year is coming to an end, it’s now time to choose your next step. For many, this is moving away to college. While this excites some and terrifies others, every student must determine where they will call home. 

As if choosing a university wasn’t hard enough, you now must make this decision in light of a worldwide pandemic. To ease the frustration of this process, here are 3 tips that may make the process a whole lot easier.

1. Virtual visits are still visits

Many universities are not allowing students to visit campus in person. This may seem detrimental to your college visit plans, but don’t write off all possibilities of touring your dream school quite so fast.

In the same way that you’ve adapted to a virtual world during the COVID-19 pandemic, so has every college or university you are hoping to visit. Many schools have now introduced virtual visitation options in which students get to tour the school through video conferencing. You’ll get to meet real students and admissions officers to ask all your burning questions and see the beautiful campus all from the comfort of your home. 

I know, this isn’t the same as an in-person visit. Trust me, there really is something special about seeing the beautiful magnolias across Georgia Southern’s campus that a video or picture just can’t do justice. But, virtual visitations are continuously getting better and can give you a good idea of what campus will look like when you do get to visit in person.

2. Hear from actual students

Since joining Southern Ambassadors, Georgia Southern’s official tour guides, I realized how much prospective students value advice from current students. It causes me to reflect on my college visit experiences. More than anything, I wanted to chat with the student ambassadors to find out what it’s really like to be a student. These conversations changed my college visits from stats and facts, to names, faces, and experiences.

If you’re reading this, then you’re already on the right track to hearing from real students. Almost every university has student tour guides whose job is to talk to you! Whether it’s while visiting campus in person or virtually, don’t be afraid to ask your student ambassador for advice and tips!

3. Explore the city- not just the campus

One of the greatest parts of college is moving to a new city. I remember a younger version of myself telling my mother “If I can’t live there, I can’t go there” referring to my need for the hustle and bustle of a big college town. While I thought I knew all these answers at the time, this was one of the few I had a good feeling about. 

Even during a pandemic, this is still possible! Take the time to find out what it’s like to be a member of the community surrounding a university. You can do this by researching different community organizations and small businesses. If you’re able to , make a trip to visit and spend the day as a local (While following all safety guidelines in place). For me, I knew I chose the right college town when I first visited a local coffee shop that has become my safe haven over the past four years.

All things considered 

Although these three lenses won’t make your sole decision in choosing a college, remember that this decision is about more than just academics. Of course, your education is the top priority, but don’t be afraid to let your thoughts, feelings, and opinions mold your decision. College is a pivotal time in your life, even though we are all living life a little differently right now. Above all else, remember to take your time with this decision. It’s going to be worth it!

Alyssa Kaeser
Middle Grades Education

Class of 2021

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