Counseling office arranges virtual colleges visits for students via Cialfo, Zoom

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With COVID-19 case numbers not declining anytime soon, Loyola, like many other schools across the country, is forced to build online communication spaces during the college admissions season. Due to nationwide hiatuses of on-campus tours and events, colleges have turned to virtual tours to gauge interest of students while maintaining the proper safety precautions. Following suit, Loyola continues to offer students weekly college visits–all online–from schools all across the nation. 

Counseling Office Coordinator Carol Hampson said, “Meetings have been quite well attended, overall. At this point, we have over 80 colleges requesting a visit. With travel not an issue, I feel like we are getting a bit of a variance from our usual colleges who have participated in the past.”

In the past, over 100 colleges would contact Loyola to visit campus. The counseling department would post the visits on the school’s main calendar, and students would receive a signature from counselors and permission from teachers to miss class and attend these sessions. With a new system in place, students have the option of choosing to visit on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays for 30-minute periods without missing any class time.

Hampson said, “Since students are not missing class time, we were able to open the visits up to all class levels. I have seen many underclassmen taking advantage of these visits, yet this wasn’t really an option in the past. We can host up to four colleges at a time, and everyone meets in a main Zoom room, going directly into breakout rooms by college.”

Colleges have made it clear during these virtual visits that the prerequisites and deadlines are adapting to today’s troubling conditions.

Counselor Daryl Crowley said, “Helping our students has been made a little easier in that some college admission requirements have been loosened—some schools have waived standardized testing and deadlines extended. Thank heavens for technology like email, zoom cell phones—these have made communicating with our students possible and convenient.”

The online visits have effectively communicated crucial college-specific information and offered students a greater number of choices. Students also benefit from listening to their peer’s insights and inquiries.

Crowley states, “The virtual tours we are working on are better than nothing and will provide valuable information and on-line interaction with former Loyola students and college representatives. We will also be able to see more schools because travel time is not a constraint. Also the cost of the tours will be way less prohibitive so more students will be able to participate.”

The only unanswered question remaining is what these schools are actually like in person. For some students, these online meetings are no different from the experiences of previous years. 

Senior Justin Dominic states, “These Zoom visits are replacing when these officers would just come visit Loyola in the fall. In those cases, we wouldn’t have seen the school either so this experience is pretty seamless with what we did last year.”

While some students were initially disappointed with on-campus college tours being cancelled, these virtual meetings with admission officers have proven to be satisfactory and have provided students a clearer vision of their future.

Dominic said, “These virtual sessions with admissions officers have allowed me to ask specific questions, and they’ve given me a pretty good picture on whether or not I want to apply.”

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