Typically, visiting a college campus is the make-or-break event that helps high school juniors and seniors decide:

  1. Yes, this is the right school for me!
  2. Ugh, what was I thinking?

But not all students are able to visit every college before adding them to their list or making a final college choice. If that sounds familiar, you’re in luck. Today, it’s entirely possible to get a good sense of a campus without stepping foot on it. 

Go There Online

For a truly immersive experience, CampusTours provides detailed virtual tours of hundreds of state schools and private universities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. You’ll see inside and get facts about the dining halls, dorms, athletic facilities and more. And when it comes to viewing the surrounding area, Google Earth’s satellite images are your friend.

Get Personal from a Distance

Search for current students documenting their college experience through blogs and vlogs. These inside glimpses into student life will help you answer questions that university-sponsored online tours may not, like: 

  • Does everyone really buy a parking pass? 
  • Which dining hall gives you the best bang for your buck?
  • How long does it really take to walk from the freshman dorms to the Arts and Sciences building?

Another way to get the real student view of the school is to read the student-run newspaper. They’re easy to find online and often available for free.

Connect

A phone or online conversation with a current student from your area or a recent graduate can also give you a sense of student life. Most college admissions offices maintain a list of current students and alums you can talk to, but since they’re usually pre-vetted and chosen because they love the school, it’s sometimes best to do a little digging of your own. Search the online student directory for current students in your desired major and LinkedIn pages for recent graduates, then reach out politely and earnestly.

In the end, while an in-person visit is ideal, it’s important to keep in mind that virtual tours and conversations with those in the know can also add to your information pool and help you make an informed decision.