How to explore colleges when you can’t visit

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Visiting a school is always a great way to learn more about it and consider whether the campus is a good fit for you. But sometimes -- because of costs, time restraints, or travel logistics -- visiting in person may not be possible.

In those circumstances, there are still ways for you to go beyond brochures to learn more about all that a school offers. Consider these alternatives:

Visit virtually
Many schools have created virtual tours, letting you explore their campuses through photos, videos, and even virtual reality technology that’s the next best thing to being there in person. Look for links to these immersive, information-rich experiences on admissions websites.

Take a deep dive into the school’s website
Look beyond the homepage or admissions information and explore the academic programs that interest you; take a look through the event calendar -- even events in the past -- to see what’s happening week to week; look for lists of clubs and campus organizations; explore the campus dining menus. Whatever is most important to you, look for it reflected on the school’s site.

Get social
Follow the school’s social media accounts -- both to see what the school shares about itself on a daily basis and also to see what its community is sharing. Scroll through the school’s updates and look for a common hashtag or geotagged content where you might see content from current students and alumni.

Ask the admissions office to connect you with a student like you
One of the most helpful parts of taking a campus tour is hearing directly from a current student about what makes their school special. You don’t need to be on campus, though, to connect with the student body. The admissions office should be able to put you in touch, over email or sometimes texting, with a student whose academic interests or hometown matches your own. Think of it as a chance to have a “tour guide” all to yourself.

Go beyond the student perspective
You can also ask the admissions office to put you in touch with a professor, if you have questions about the academic experience, or an alum. There may even be an alum in your area who’d be willing to meet up in person or connect in another way to talk about their experience at the school. Consider it your first networking meeting!

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