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It’s almost college-visit season for rising seniors. How colleges are handling it in a COVID-19 world.

Virginia Tech hosts virtual town halls, online campus tours

BLACKSBURG, Va. – If you’ve got a rising high school senior, you know that now is the time to start looking at colleges. That normally means packing your bags and heading to campus for a tour and a meeting, but in the face of the COVID-19 shutdown, that’s just not possible.

So schools such as Virginia Tech and others are taking the process virtual. Juan Espinoza is the director of undergraduate admissions and was the first presenter to speak during Tuesday night’s virtual town hall for prospective students broadcast live on YouTube.

“We’re very, very excited to be able to talk about some of the changes that are going to be happening in this upcoming cycle and hopefully alleviate some of the anxiety and fears you have about this process,” Espinoza said.

Hundreds of potential students and their families from 33 states and around the globe tuned in. It’s an interesting time to be a rising senior, and this is an attempt at normalcy.

“In this moment, what we’re doing to help students see what college is going to look like once COVID-19 has sort of run its course," university spokesman Mark Owczarski said.

Arguably the biggest take away is that for this admissions cycle only the university will not require SAT or ACT test scores.

But that’s the black and white stuff. Students usually use campus visits as a time to see if it’s the right for them and if they could see themselves there. The panelists did their best to sell the campus and the area. Virginia Tech has also created an entire webpage of virtual 360 tours of campus.

“We are again located in Southwest Virginia, it’s nestled in a beautiful place in this country in the Blue Ridge Mountains, that surround our campus," university recruitment director Danette Gomez Beane said.

If the on-foot tours are too slow, you may enjoy one of the drone videos buzzing around campus.

And it’s not all test scores and volunteer work. The panelists also covered the finer things about college life, like their favorite on-campus meals.

“(I love) A cooked patty with ham and bacon and BBQ sauce with all kinds of healthy things on it and I was sometimes known to get that even with an order of fresh mozzarella cheese sticks," assistant director of undergraduate admissions Jarrid Dudley said.

Choosing where to spend four years of your life is no easy task even in normal times, but Virginia Tech hopes resources like this can help get that accomplished.

It’s unclear when campus visits will resume. For this year’s incoming freshman, the university is hosting orientation, normally completed in person, completely online.


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