Researching a College: Use All of Your Resources
April 20, 2020
Finally! It is spring of your junior year and it is time to really start thinking about the college application process. You might start to put together a list of schools that have the program you are looking for, or maybe they are close to home, which is important to you. Maybe your list includes schools that have really interesting research experiences that you heard about at a college fair, or maybe one of your friends is a first-year student there and raves about their favorite student organization.
The next natural step is to take a look online and do a little bit of research.
The next natural step is to take a look online and do a little bit of research, with an important piece of that research being what opportunities you have to visit campus. In most years, that includes daily visits for information sessions and tours, large-scale weekend Open Houses, and maybe even special days just for your college or academic area of interest. However, this year, everything is different. With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and universities taking important measures to secure their campus and protect their students, staff, and faculty, this step in the college research process has changed drastically. Below are some resources that you can use, tailored to Drexel, to help in this step in the process.
Virtual Campus Tours
Although there is no true replacement for the feeling of being on a college campus and knowing that the feeling is right, it is important to see what your prospective colleges look and feel like. Drexel's Virtual Tour is an expansive website with a mix of videos, photos, and detailed explanations of places on Drexel's campus that are important for students to know about. Drexel has an amazing diversity of campus buildings and spaces that support the work of the University and it is important to see what they look like and how it impacts the student experience. However, Drexel sees Philadelphia as an extension of our campus, so it is also important to check out local landmarks within walking distance of campus that students are able to take advantage of every day.
Virtual Information Sessions
Most college visits start with a presentation and information session from the school's admissions office or individual academic units. Drexel is no different. Drexel is offering daily, including many Saturdays, Virtual Information Sessions using a software called Zoom allowing you to hear from a member of our admissions team and have your questions answered by professional staff and some of our student ambassadors. These information sessions are a great opportunity to get to know the basics about a school and have a chance to ask questions that benefit your own experience as well as the other attendees' experiences. Although no 40-minute information session can include everything about Drexel, it is a great starting point to understand what makes Drexel unique and how we think about education. Paired with these information sessions are all-day one-on-one Brazen chats giving you the chance to ask admissions team members and current students about their Drexel experience.
As an admissions professional, I like to think that we are really wonderful resources for prospective Drexel students. However, I know that current Drexel stories and communicating with current students in your academic area of interest can be the best way to really understand what life may be like in the future. Drexel provides two great collections of student stories to get to know the Drexel student experience: Student Stories and PaperClip. Student Stories is a mass of, primarily, video stories about the overall Drexel experience from the student prospective. It ranges from stories about individual co-op experiences and study abroad trips to what it's like to transfer to Drexel or attend a University-wide concert. PaperClip is a database of recent Drexel stories, mostly in a narrative form, from students across the Drexel ecosystem. One of my favorite recent PaperClip stories is from a recent alum talking about all of the gems located near our University City campus: it is called West Philly Gems in the City-Living section.
Individual Meetings and Phone Calls
Finally, reach out to folks on the college side and schedule time to address your individual concerns. This process can be a long and overwhelming one, but admissions professionals, University staff members, and faculty are here to provide an ear and some advice in this process. Although we cannot meet in person at this moment, we are lucky to have vast technological resources at our disposal to help shepherd these connections and get your questions answered. Do you have some general questions about Drexel, the admissions process, or anything else? Reach out to your territory-based admissions counselor. Do you have very specific questions about an academic program or college? Chat with someone in that program or college!
Although this is certainly not a perfect situation that anyone in the college search process has experienced before, we are incredibly lucky to have extensive technological resources to support getting more information about the schools, including Drexel, that you may be interested in. So, take advantage of them and get searching!
Kevin Murray is an Assistant Director in Undergraduate Admissions at Drexel as well as an alumnus. He spends his free time drinking coffee and thinking about where in the world he wants to travel next.