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Connecting to campus: High school seniors virtually tour colleges before making final decision

Posted at 6:45 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-11 19:14:50-04

Imagine committing to a college when you've never stepped foot on campus.

That's what some high school students are forced to do as university campuses remain closed during the pandemic.

These closures are making it difficult for high school seniors like Madeline Hollekim to decide where to go before the May 1 deadline.

“I didn't ever think that it would have to come to a point where I would have to choose a school without seeing them,” said Hollekim, a senior at Centaurus High School in Lafayette, Colorado.

She is choosing between Cal Poly, University of Washington and University of Montana, but her plans to visit were canceled.

She found out how important visiting prospective schools are when a tour at the University of Oregon knocked it off her list.

“I thought it was one of my top contenders at the time and when I went and looked at it, it was not where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t for me.”

Virtual orientations, housing tours and online Q and A's are helping Hollekim and other students connect to campuses.

Cal Poly SLO and UC Santa Barbara are trying to persuade these undecided seniors using their websites and social media accounts.

“Inviting them to webinars where they will be able to meet with faculty and staff and other students that are current and explore other experiences they would have gotten on campus,” said Andrene Kaiwi, Director of New Student and Transition Programs at Cal Poly SLO.

Capturing the "feel of campus" in a short video is no easy task.

“I think that's the hardest part about not having live events because I think one of the greatest selling points of UCSB is the sense of community and friendly nature of the campus,” said Lisa Przekop, UCSB Director of Admissions.

A Seattle woman's daughter chose Cal Poly because it was one of the only campuses she got to tour.

Her daughter said she didn’t feel comfortable making a jump to a college let alone a community she didn't know.

"Being a West Coast family making the jump to college is one thing, but making the jump to a whole different culture, to East coast culture, is different,” said Chrisy Francescutti, whose daughter is going to be a Cal Poly freshman.

Francescutti said their last visit was from the viewpoint of a prospective family, but that lens has changed.

They are hoping to get a better look at the campus as a member of the Mustang family by attending the virtual Open House.

Click here for more information on Cal Poly's virtual Open House.

Click here for more information on UCSB's virtual Open House.