Choosing a College Without Making a Visit

Author: Johnny Blote

The whole college application process can be overwhelming, but it gets easier when you finally get to make your decisions, right? Not exactly.

I remember well the week leading up to putting my deposit down at Notre Dame, and I can honestly say that I had no idea what I was doing. I was deciding between three colleges that I had never visited before and where I knew no one. During the pandemic, visiting colleges to get a feel wasn’t an option, so I was really hoping that the admissions process would decide where I was going for me rather than having to make a choice. Although I was fortunate enough to have options, I was unsure of myself in making the right decision.

Johnny Blote

For a very long time, colleges relied on the typical in-person tour to get students interested in the school. Because of this reliance, very few schools were ready to adapt to the challenges brought about by the pandemic. For example, at one admitted students virtual event, the student admissions leader said that his in-person admitted students day was what made him interested in his school in the first place. That is the most perfect thing to tell a group of students who can’t visit the school.

As a student who had never done a roadtrip with their parents to visit different colleges, I was nervous because I couldn’t get a feel for any school that I was interested in. During the weeks leading up to my decision, I relied on a few resources to help aid the process:

  1. YouTube videos - not only are there plenty of videos from the admissions team, but there are also quite a few students at Notre Dame and other colleges around the country that make vlogs and day-in-the-life videos that can give you a better look at what life is like at that school. Whether it’s observing how students interact with each other or seeing what the workload is like, these videos can be very insightful and show you things you wouldn’t see on a traditional visit to the school.

  2. Class Instagram pages - if you didn’t follow the “Notre Dame Class of 2028” Instagram page immediately after acceptance, go do it. Yes, the posts can feel like they’re all very similar and the captions people make are similar to the mad libs you filled out in elementary school, but it’s a great way to interact with people who could potentially be your classmates. One of the most fundamental parts of college consists of the people you meet, so this is a good opportunity to see if you would mesh well with them.

  3. Financial aid and outcomes - while college is important for growth and experience, it’s also important for getting a job and having financial stability in the future. Looking at your cost and the potential outcomes of an education at any school should be an important factor in the decision making process, so this should be considered regardless of whether or not you were able to visit a school.

In hindsight, these three factors definitely helped me make the right decision. In some ways, I feel that I got a better understanding of what life was like at the three schools I was looking at, and I realized that Notre Dame would be the best fit for me overall. Don’t get me wrong, I think tours are a great way to get a feel for the campus and its amenities, but there are other ways to get the understanding needed to make an informed decision.

*Note: The Notre Dame Class of 2028 Instagram account is not affiliated or monitored by Notre Dame Admissions.