Due to COVID-19, all colleges have been closed, leaving it impossible for juniors to visit schools. At the beginning of the pandemic, many students grew worried that they might never be able to visit schools that interest them. But with many virtual college tours available, students can acquire a lot of information and are somewhat able to get a feel for a campus without even being there in the flesh. However, these tours are not perfect and will certainly make choosing a college a more difficult decision for this year’s junior class.
Since one of the most important aspects of a college for me is the Jewish life, Hillel Zoom meetings at various institutions have been instrumental in giving me perspective on Jewish life on campus from the lens of the students. Some Hillels showed videos of what their Hillel house looks like and others gave their own versions of campus tours, displaying various students’ favorite locations on campus. One thing I appreciated about the Hillel info sessions was not just the discussion about Shabbat, holidays, and other Hillel activities, but also an inside perspective from students about campus life in general. I appreciated that it was not a pre-filmed promotional video for the college, but a lively and honest discussion.
Although seeing a college virtually is better than not seeing one at all, I am saddened that the class of 2021 will not have the experience of authentically visiting the colleges they wanted to see first-hand. I know that the visits I planned to do over Pesach break and at the end of the summer will never happen. Although I was warned to try to see many schools as early as possible, no one could have predicted that all tours after early March would suddenly disappear. Ultimately, the virtual tours have given good insight, but in my opinion, I will have a hard time making college decisions without having been able to visit schools in person.