Visiting a college campus can be one of the most important factors for a student to determine whether that institution is the right fit for them and their future.
Campus tours give prospective college students the chance to interact with other students and ask questions of faculty and staff including admissions and financial aid officers. These visits can help a student gain a fuller perspective of the institution and help narrow their college search. However, not all colleges are open to visitors, due to COVID-19 restrictions, and some students and their families may not be able or feel comfortable traveling right now.
Many colleges and universities offer virtual tours, giving students the option to visit college campuses without ever having to leave their home while also saving them the cost of a road trip. These virtual tours provide students with a closer look at different parts of the campus using interactive maps and other tools and are compatible with most devices. A student can get 360-degree views of all buildings on campus, from computer labs to recreational facilities.
Most of Florida’s 40 public colleges and universities offer virtual tours and FloridaShines launched a webpage last year featuring links to many of these tours. Students can tour virtually to feel like they have just stepped foot on campus.
In addition to virtual tours, there are several other steps students can take to find more information about Florida’s colleges and universities:
- Explore the profile of each institution at FloridaShines. These profiles offer important information including admissions, size of the student body, costs and financial aid, degree programs and requirements and details about campus life.
- Visit each institution’s academic department online. Students can find information about the faculty and read about professors' interests and expectations to discover what sorts of instructors they will be learning from. If a student finds a particular professor's research interesting, they should consider sending them an email to get more information.
- Explore degree and certificate programs to learn about what programs each institution offers and the requirements for that program or major.
- Browse the FloridaShines Course Catalog to see what types of online courses each institution offers. To view a full listing of all courses, students are encouraged to visit the website for each college or university.
To learn more about social and campus life, students can visit each college or university’s social media pages. Information can often be found on campus clubs and organizations, cultural events, student government, sports, and more on these social media platforms.
While doing research on a college or university, a student should take notes as they go and bookmark the webpages that interest them. After a couple of visits, even online, they may not remember certain details. They should write down the little things they see online while browsing a college, and notes about their conversations, chats, or emails with the staff there. Those observations, tidbits, and highlights can ultimately lead them to apply or enroll.
Summer is a great time for students — whether they are just starting high school or in their senior year — to plan a tour of a college campus either in person or virtually. Students should take advantage of the myriad of resources available to them at home to learn more about the colleges and universities on their list, so that they are prepared to apply in the fall and start their college journey.