BSM Seniors Attend Virtual College Visits


Nate Charles

Senior Eli Erickson attends a virtual college visit via Zoom.

Nate Charles, Staff Writer

This year, seniors have seen senior traditions change, with one of the most impactful changes being online college visits. A once-common activity for juniors and seniors has changed and made an already difficult decision even harder.

During this pandemic, seniors are beginning to narrow down where they want to spend their next couple of years. However, it has become more difficult for seniors to find the right fit, since many have not had the opportunity to visit prospective colleges in-person. “As a sophomore and junior our school would host college admission counselors and I would go to those… and we have been having virtual ones and I have not gone to a single one,” senior Sam Decker said.

Some seniors feel as though the online college visits are not helpful in narrowing down colleges. Because of their marketing strategies, seniors feel they are redundant. “There is nothing [colleges] over Zoom can convey to me, I don’t think that would not be conveyed in an online ad,” Decker said. 

When students compare their in-person experiences to those online, many agreed that the in-person allowed them to get a better feel for the college. “I did [Montana State University] online and in-person and definitely did not get a better feel for the college online,” senior Eli Erickson said.

While online college visits may not depict the college accurately, one positive of online college visits is creating contact with the admission representative for your area. “Having gone to both the in-person and online meetings with these college admission counselors, the only real benefit that I saw to going as a senior was getting into contact with your admission counselor,” senior Adam Foe said.

Students feel every school advertises itself similarly to other schools making it hard to discern the right school for them. The visits tend to be mixed in with the other visits, even though each school is different. The special quirks seem to be less highlighted on virtual visits then in-person. “ By the time you have gone to a couple of those [online college visits]  it all kind of blends together, everyone sells their schools the same way and I’m sure there’s unique things about every college,” Foe said.

On the guidance and college counselor side, they have also been challenging. Last spring and this fall were especially difficult for some of the guidance counselors. “In general for the counselors, last spring was more challenging because they were all home with their families… but it’s really really tough,” BSM guidance and college counselor Amy Larson said.

Another of the college and guidance counselors, Ms. Wessman, sent out the usual invitation for colleges to set-up a visit with Benilde-St. Margarets students. This year, BSM had more colleges sign up than previous years. “Last year we had 139 colleges sign-up to visit and this year we had 158. Because they don’t have to travel, some new schools we had were Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Florida, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Spelman, Xavier of Louisiana, and Temple,” Larson said.

This year the guidance counselors extended a special request for three HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities). The counselors wanted to give students of color a chance to get to know these universities. “In the past we haven’t sent out a personal reach out to colleges, but this year we reached out to Spelman, Xavier of Louisiana, and Howard–three HBCUs–to try to do more to get them,” Larson said.