Though we always encourage students to visit the schools to which they’re applying, sometimes real life gets in the way. This is especially true for international students, for whom an international flight isn’t always feasible.
However, whether it’s distance, time, or money that makes it difficult to visit a school, don’t get discouraged. There are some alternatives that will help you make sure you’re making the right choice and getting a good feel for your chosen schools.
1. Make sure they have your contact info
When visiting in-person, admissions offices will ask for your contact information. Though it seems fairly obvious, it’s often quite common for students to not make direct contact with a school until they actually apply or visit the school. Make sure you’re on the mailing lists of your target schools; it’s an easy way to show interest and a great way to learn more about the school.
2. Check for info sessions or events in your area
Larger schools will frequently have events all over the world, so don’t think that just because you’re on the other side of the world you won’t be able to meet face-to-face with an admissions rep. Check to see if there are any events in your area for your target schools, and keep your eye out for larger conventions or local events, which are attended by dozens of top schools.
3. Reach out to the school directly
If the school doesn’t have any events or resources in your area, don’t be afraid to speak to the school directly. Just shoot them a quick email or even reach out via social media. They might be able to set up a one-on-one meeting with a local alum or a school representative.
4. Talk to local alumni and current students
Even if the school doesn’t have anyone official in your area, chances are you know someone who knows someone who graduated or is a current student, even if it’s your mother’s best friend’s nephew. Reach out to them to pick their brain for application tips and insights into the school’s culture.
5. Look around online
Though we don’t advise relying solely on a school’s website, it can be an excellent way to learn more about the school. See if they have any virtual tours or information about day-to-day life at the school. You might even be able to find the list of courses you’ll take for your major. As you’re exploring their website, keep your eye out for student blogs and student publications.
6. Watch something
7. Be social
Social media is also a good way to see what current students are saying about your target school. It’s also a great way to find out what kind of extracurricular activities and clubs are available around campus. Check out their Twitter, follow them on Instagram, join any promising-looking Facebook groups, find the school’s subreddit on Reddit, etc. Forums like College Confidential can also be a good tool.
Again, it’s best to visit in-person whenever possible. But hopefully a few of these tips will help you narrow down your list and find your best fit.