Pandemic puts a damper on college tours, institutions turn to technology

Pandemic puts a damper on college tours, institutions turn to technology

Spring brings an educational rite-of-passage, as millions of high school seniors choose where they’ll go to college. That decision hinges in part, on campus tours, which are not possible due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. But many institutions of higher learning are turning to technology to solve their problem. 

“We want students to be able to see themselves, want them to see their goals, their faculty and their major. We want them to say, ‘That’s the place I want to go for college years,’” said Patrick Day, vice president for student affairs at San Jose State University.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak closed campus, selling perspective students on attending SJSU has become more difficult for administrators.

With the exception of a few students sheltered-in-place, the Downtown San Jose campus is deserted. This, at a time when 11,000 admitted high school seniors are supposed to be touring the school to see if State is a good fit. So now the tour is coming to them.

“What we’re doing now is launching an online admitted Spartan day, which will actually occur over the course of a week,” said Day.

‘Admitted Spartan Day’ is going virtual this year. The university produced slick 360-videos showing the campus and dorms, and links allowing would-be Spartans to connect with student leaders and faculty.

“We can still get to those critical pieces that students need to know and understand to begin the process of becoming Spartans,” said Day.

Cameron Hewitson is a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Jose who has used virtual tours of colleges to help whittle down his decision.

“It really helped when I went to go visit the school,” he said.

But Hewitson did not chose San Jose State. Despite growing up in the South Bay, his heart, and family linage, are tied to The Ohio State University in Columbus. But virtual tours did cement his decision, and he believes this can be helpful for other seniors still in the process of choosing.

“When I took it, it was enough to make my decision to apply there. And to say that’s where I wanted to go. But the virtual tour was not enough by itself to say that’s where I’m going to go to college,” said Hewitson, sporting a red Ohio State baseball cap.

Patrick Day and others in academia hope this virtual hook will allow them to land a large bounty of students, when things return to normal this Fall.

“We’re hoping during this time we’ll be able to show them why this is a great choice,” he said.

Virtual Spartan Day is a week, not a day, from April 18-24. Day says student leaders and faculty have already started reaching out to admitted students, and those who haven’t made up their minds.

To view some of the videos from SJSU Virtual Admitted Day, go to:

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