Colleges begin offering virtual tours for incoming students

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SAN DIEGO — Universities and colleges in San Diego County and across the country are beginning to hold virtual tours to give incoming students a preview of college life.

On-campus college tours in San Diego have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though schools’ decisions to do so are in line with stay-at-home orders, they mean prospective students and incoming freshmen are unable to visit their top school choices in person.

Alexa is a high school junior who spent months planning out her college visits with her mother. “It was going to be a good amount of schools that we were going to see that would really help me narrow down my list of colleges that I was hoping to apply for,” she told FOX 5.

Alexa said she was hoping to visit 12 different schools in three states during her spring break. Instead, she began receiving emails notifying her those visits would no longer be happening.

“At first I was a little sad because I wasn’t going to be able to visit the campuses. But a lot of schools hadn’t canceled right away, so I had a little bit of hope,” she said. “Eventually they all canceled, and so we actually canceled our trip and came home instead.”

Now, Alexa said those canceled tours ended up being a blessing in disguise. “I was very surprised because I was having these Zoom meetings with very high-up people. I don’t know if I would have been able to meet them in person, but having a Zoom meeting with them was super cool,” she said.

Schools like San Diego State University, CSU San Marcos and UC San Diego are organizing similar virtual meetings. SDSU recently released a video virtually welcoming all incoming freshmen and prospective students.

Valita Jones, who is the director of recruitment and outreach at CSU San Marcos, said they are turning to technology during these uncertain times. “We have some student-made videos of the dorms. They can kind of get an idea of what that’s all about. They can get a virtual tour and have a virtual appointment with an academic advisor on campus. It’s sort of like we’re creating a one-stop shop to support and engage the students,” Jones said.

These one-stop shops are now giving students like Alexa the chance to meet people directly from her dream school — without ever leaving home.

According to Jones, CSU San Marcos is hosting a virtual open house on April 24. SDSU already had its first virtual open house but has another scheduled for April 18.

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