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Virginia universities and colleges help high school students explore campus with virtual tours and more

As high school juniors start to seriously think about college, in-person campus visits are canceled.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Juniors like Savanah Dennis tell us it’s a tough decision to decide on a college from afar. Before the coronavirus pandemic, she had planned in-person visits to help.

"My family actually planned to go to Miami to tour our University of Miami for spring break, which is my dream college. But we had to cancel that trip," Savanah said.

She said of her parents’ and friend’s advice wraps around knowing the college is for you, by the way you feel on campus.

"They all say, like, you know when you step on campus that that's where you want to be. No matter how hard you wish and how hard you look at the pictures, it's you don't know until you're there,” she said.

That's why Savanah and many high school juniors are turning to technology to tour colleges and universities, virtually and admissions officials know that. So, they're stepping up online resources, like webinars and one on one video chat interviews.

"I actually do think that this is a good thing for colleges and universities, including TCC,” said Tidewater Community College’s Interim Dean of Students, Kia Hardy.

From community colleges to universities, each campus is working to give prospective students a taste of what their higher-ed institution has to offer.

On the peninsula, Hampton University has a student-guided YouTube video. 

"We have received them virtually, but the embrace is the same,” said Hampton University’s AVP of Marketing and Media, B. Davida Plummer.

Christopher Newport, George Mason, Old Dominion, and Regent universities are using a 360-degree virtual tour to help potential students get a feel for campus.

CNU’s Chief Communications Officer, Jim Hanchett, said it comes as close to in-person interaction as possible. 

"Ultimately, we are so looking forward to that day when we can welcome everybody back to campus,” said Hanchett.

George Mason University Dean of Admissions Amy Takayama-Perez said, "We are going to do our best we can to bring Mason to students."

Regent University’s AVP of Enrollment Management Heidi Cece said, "Thank goodness for technology and take advantage of it."

The Executive Director of Admissions at Old Dominion University said the change is working well and universities like ODU are seeing an increase in online traction.

"We've seen a significant increase,” said Christopher Fleming.

Overall, virtual tours and information are helping students like Savanah Dennis move forward, with finding the right college for them until they can visit in person.

Savanah said, "In order for me to know that I would want to go there, I probably have to be there, so it's kind of hard knowing making that decision."

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