Virtual College Admissions 101: Your University Guide

This post is from our series on Virtual students and how school has become more and more online.  See our other posts from the Virtual Student series here.

Many of my readers are beginning, finishing or in the middle of the college process. I do a lot of work with kids and families on applications, picking majors they are passionate about and adjusting.  I have seen the process go from paper/mail/post office (when my brother applied 10 years ago) to virtual/email/ping.  Let’s take a look at how all parts of the process are now virtual.

How Virtual College Admissions Works

Virtual Test Prep

Websites like Grockit do virtual SAT/GMAT/ACT/PSAT prep all online. They actually turn learning into a game.  I had a highlighter and a fat stack of flashcards when I did my SAT prep.  Also iPhone apps like are becoming more and more popular.  A great way to fill waiting time with something useful.

Virtual College Fairs

No longer do you have to come home with half of the rainforest in your backpack.  College tours are now virtual.  Virtual College Fairs and even College Week Live do an amazing job of taste testing schools. I love that you not only can talk to admissions officers, but ask questions, take virtual tours and talk to other virtual prospective students…crazy! This site is also pretty cool for seeing schools.

Virtual College Tours and Online College Research

There are websites like Campus that offer tours, but schools themselves are also offering a variety of online ways to connect and do research.
Universities are having virtual forums, videos and even social networks to converse with admissions officers, teachers and students.

Virtual Scholarships and Applications

There are so many universities who are now allowing the entire application to be submitted online.  Even the common application has gone virtual.  You can also research scholarships and apply for grants from thousands of donors.  You can also do interviews now with alumnae through iChat and Skype! No more awkward coffee shop parking.

Virtual College Orientation

My orientation began with a sweaty meet and greet on the quad.  Now, orientation begins as soon as you know where you are applying.  A slew of social networks have developed for prospective and newly admitted students to converse, chat and network.  Campus hook and the Quad are some of the top ones.

Virtual Degrees

The online admissions sometimes does not end in a real campus.  More and more students are now staying online and getting virtual degrees at virtual universities.  Devry is very popular for this.

What Virtual College Admissions Means For Future Generations

Part of me is so excited to have everything be virtual.  Insuring and sending certified mail was a pain in the butt and being able to connect with roommates and classmates before the big first day is a huge relief.  I also love that students who do not have enough money for a private tutor or to visit all the schools can now get a glimpse. Yet, there are some things I am worried about:

  • Will making virtual friends early pigeon hold people to staying with them? I know that it is a comfort to have friends you met online, but is it too comfortable?
  • Virtual interviews are great, but you learn so much about a potential applicant in the small gestures.  Who offers to pay for coffee, who holds the door, do they say thank you at checkout.  The interview starts earlier than sitting at the table, I think that is missed online.
  • So much of what I loved about Emory University (where I attended school) was the smell of the flowers, eavesdropping on students conversations and seeing groups sitting outside the cafe.  This you cannot get on a virtual tour.
  • Visiting is also good for the admissions officers to see who is most interested.  Will virtual tours and virtual fairs eliminate face to face interaction with admissions officers?

Overall, I love technology and I love advancing.  I think we need to maintain the real life benefits of the process and make sure we are not leaving touch with what this is all about…learning, meeting new people and securing a great future for students.

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