Virtual College Visits: How Much Do You Learn?
You’ll notice that I’ve recorded a few virtual college visits over the past two weeks. I had been scheduled to see these schools in person, starting with Tufts. Virtual college visits are often the first impressions that college-bound students get about different schools. But you cannot limit yourself to viewing admissions office productions. They might be quite good. But the content has gone through an approval process within the college’s communications department. Same is true for student blogs.
So, if admissions videos and blogs are marketing materials, then why take virtual college visits?
- Its good to learn how these schools are marketing, and what they’re not marketing.
- I like to compare the perceptions of a school that are covered through marketing with information from student-directed media and data sources.
Now I’ll give an example of a virtual visit that I just finished, but have not written the post.
Five years ago, Bentley University (MA) did a good job summing up the school in a two-minute video. That make sense as a marketing practice. Most people cannot watch an informercial that runs much longer than that. The video gave me a sense of what the campus looks like, and who might go there. But no one can explain the academics, or the admissions process, in two minutes. Nor would a video convince prospective students and their families that they can afford a Bentley education. That requires more research, even if you cannot do a campus visit.
To start to get a better picture of Bentley I listened to one set of v-logs from a Bentley University sophomore, where she walked the audience through her college list. She was from California, wavering whether to come to the East Coast or stay in the Golden State. Her first impressions of Bentley were all virtual. But they led her to apply for a women’s leadership program at the university, and she was accepted. Watching her later v-logs she seemed happy with her choice. But she is only one person. I also found a nice, short video about the places Bentley students go to dine and shop. I would have liked going to college in Waltham, Massachusetts.
After watching these two videos, I watched a few more. As I did for the previous posts about the University of Kansas (KU), Tufts and Boston University (BU), I’ll go to various data sources to get better information. I could not get a sense of the admissions process, academics, or the successes of Bentley students by watching videos. My very first perception that Bentley was that it is a “great business school to be an accounting or finance major.” But Bentley is probably #2 in US News under Regional Universities-North because it is more than a “business college.” That’s why I’ll go through data sources that I typically use to write a profile after a real-life college visit. .
I hope that you enjoy the virtual impressions of the campuses that I have covered to date: KU, Tufts and Boston University. After I finish writing up Boston area schools, I will be taking my next “trip” to Tennessee, to take a virtual college visit to Sewanee, The University of the South. Look around this campus. If you’re looking for a great liberal arts school, you might want to visit, too. The setting reminds me of Princeton.
Need to plan your own virtual visits in a COVID-19 world? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 609-406-0062.