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Countdown to college: A new normal for everyone

By Lee Shulman Bierer, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Education News

Were your spring break plans upended like everyone else's? Are you trying to figure out how to make this "voluntary" lockdown more productive?

The world is off its axis, and we're trying to keep up with the news of coronavirus, but not be overwhelmed or panic-stricken.

I see three distinct and valid reactions:

Fear: For anyone dealing with ill family members or friends, or wondering if the virus has been transmitted to a loved one, these are scary, uncertain times.

Anxiety: This is a hard time for those living paycheck to paycheck, surviving on tips or working for a business that has shuttered during this crisis, as well as for those who have lost much of their nest egg with the tanking of the stock market. Assessing the personal economic impacts of what we're dealing with is sobering.

Frustration: Inconvenience is the new reality. For those whose daily life has been altered significantly - working remotely, kids home from school, social get-togethers postponed - life as you knew it a few weeks ago is gone, at least temporarily.

On that rather depressing note, I'm going to suggest a workaround for the spring break campus visits that aren't going to happen.



There are a few great websites out there that provide videos and virtual tours of campuses, conversations with admissions staff, videos of day-to-day life with students and a peek inside what goes on at different college campuses.

Here are my favorites:

www.youniversitytv.com - In 5-7 minutes, these videos will have you feeling like you're an expert on each college you "visit." The videos interview directors of admissions, professors and students, who share their insights on what life is like inside and outside the classroom. Admissions and testing stats are also provided so you can have a better sense of whether each school is a reach, a target or a safety. You get a look at the campus, the academic buildings and the surrounding area.

www.youvisit.com - These are amazing virtual tours of colleges and universities around the country. You can click on a forward-moving arrow and go into a building and see classrooms, the student union, dormitories, etc. The tours are narrated by students who share fun facts, traditions and their own personal insights about their experiences. Many schools offer dozens of stops on their tours, so you'll undoubtedly feel a little overwhelmed, but take a look at the campus and soak up the information.

www.campusreel.org - This a relatively new site that offers short behind-the-scenes videos done by students for other students. It's real talk, not a public relations pitch from the university, and high school students really enjoy watching their peers interact with friends and seem normal.

Lee Shulman Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. Visit her website College Admissions Strategies.

Visit The Charlotte Observer at www.charlotteobserver.com

(c)2020 The Charlotte Observer, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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