Final steps: How college visits impact student decisions


Dave Babka

Sarah Babka stands in front of the University of Michigan, beaming with excitement, during her college visit.

Ella Litchfield, Photo Manager

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been changes made to the college application and decision process. Many students have had to virtually visit a school or interview over zoom for their applications. 

The college visit is a crucial step for many students. Senior Cyrus Barati was deciding between a few schools before his visit with Grinnel. “My visit was a positive experience and it helped me learn a lot about campus life, environment and gave me an in-depth look into some main buildings and resources provided to the students,” he said. 

According to a professor in higher education, Scott Secore, colleges use a prospective student visit to lure them in to attending “marketers of higher education admissions have turned their attention to prioritizing the pivotal nature of a campus visit, and the overwhelming effect it has on both prospective students and higher education administrators.” Schools have begun to notice the effect which visits have on these students and invest in the resources to make a positive impact. 

The tour guides of these trips give incoming freshmen a lot of information on academics, social life, etc. In order to understand the atmosphere of a college, visitors want to hear a student’s perspective on how they chose to go to a certain school and what influenced them. 

While the virtual switch has made the decision process more complex, some have felt more relaxed during the application process and safer without having to travel. Shveta Kalathur, a senior, explained her experience with a virtual college interview and looked on the bright-side, “I can be myself during these interviews because I’m in a comfortable environment. Since this virtual process has not been tried and tested before, it’s obviously not perfect, but my experience has been positive.” She felt more confident in her answers as compared to an in-person interview.

Overall, the new college approach has left many different impressions but remains an important step in choosing a school. Virtual changes have made it easier for applicants, however, in-person visits seem to be the preferred option.