I never visited UChicago in person before I started college. Rather, I decided to come here because of what I was able to learn about UChicago online. During any year, figuring out which colleges you might like to attend can be challenging. However, one silver lining to this pandemic as it relates to the college search process is that there are many more opportunities to learn about colleges online than there ever has been in the past.
The easiest way to find out more about a college is to check out its websites. Plenty of information is packed into these sites, so they can be a great place to start. Here are some tips for what you might want to search for (and some links to where you can find UChicago-specific info):
- Academics: What programs does a particular school offer? Check out the list of majors and minors available and the course catalog to see if there are options for what you're interested in studying. Some colleges are also offering virtual model classes taught by faculty members, which is a great way to get a sneak peak of a particular school’s curriculum!
- Student Life: What types of clubs or RSOs (Recognized Student Organizations) are there? What kind of sports teams are there? What popular places do students like to visit both on and off campus? Many schools have student panels or an email address where you can get in touch with current students, so be sure to take advantage of those as you explore these questions.
- Housing: What kind of dorms and rooms are offered? Is on-campus housing guaranteed? Is it guaranteed all four years?
- Advising: Is academic advising available? What types of job and career resources are offered? Is there any guidance for research opportunities?
- Financial Aid: What types of scholarships and grants does the school offer? Is it likely that the school will cover your financial needs? All universities in the United States are required to have a net-price calculator on their website; you can use this to get an estimate of what you would pay to attend a specific college.
- Campus “Tour”: Is there a virtual tour you can follow or a video tour that gives you an idea of what the campus layout and buildings look like? What's located around the school? Is it in a big city or small town? Is it near the beach or next to a forest?
Once you've figured out if a college suits your interests, you’ll probably want to get a better sense of how it actually feels to be a student on campus. It's a great idea to check out a college's social media accounts (my favorite is Instagram) to see current students' perspectives. Personally, I think watching student takeovers, days in the life, and Q&As are the most helpful in understanding what college life is like at a certain school.
I'd also recommend looking for more student and campus videos on YouTube, since this type of content can give you a sense of what goes on inside various campus buildings and what dorm life and housing looks like. Additionally, many schools are now offering scheduled virtual visits through Zoom, which is another way you can hear more about a school from a tour guide or an admissions officer.
Even without visiting in person, using all of these resources can help you get an idea of if you’ll be successful and happy at a certain school. You know yourself best, and you know better than anyone what you’re looking for in a college experience. If you search for these things, you can confidently figure out if a school is a great fit for you!