High school seniors prepare for decision day without campus tours

by Delaney Appelhans

Decision day for high school seniors to decide which university they will be attending in the fall is just over three weeks away. While several different groups of the student body have been impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, high school seniors are being impacted before they begin their college experiences.

On the University of Illinois campus, there have been no official campus tours being held by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. The office’s website now instead has a tab for “Virtual Visits” where prospective students can find options to get to know the campus environment, such as info sessions one-on-one and in group settings, virtual tour videos and more interactive, remote resources.

The website also states that the office asks that “prospective students refrain from visiting us in person at this time.” Despite this, potential students and their parents could be seen throughout campus this weekend, carrying orange bags from the Illini Union Bookstore.

High school senior, Danielle Smith, has already committed to attend the university in the fall, though she did not get to officially tour the campus before in person tours stopped being offered. She said that she found other ways to visit campus to get a feel for the atmosphere to choose to attend over her other school options.

“I have a cousin that goes [to Illinois], so I visited her a few times and she showed me around the campus.”

Smith further explained that her decision process was made more difficult due to the unconventional nature of touring campuses this year.

Former campus tour guide, Maeve Prusnik, gave another perspective of the experience without traditional campus tours being offered to students.

She said that when she gave tours, she would always be as open and honest with prospective students and parents as possible, explaining that the “cookie cutter” tour guide scripts and online resources can only give applicants so much information.

Prusnik also said that tours were vital for out-of-state students who did not already have connections and insight to the campus from family and friends.

“I think that [those tours] did really make a lot of impact on people, and you get more of a weight of what it means to go to college when you’re there actually looking at the buildings and in the dorms,” said Prusnik.