Rockford students face challenges of choosing a college without a tour

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Some teenagers across the Stateline started their final semester of high school this month, but students setting their sights on college won’t get the traditional spring tour due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For high school seniors, thinking about college can cause stress and anxiety, especially when they can’t visit campuses.

Rock Valley College suspended in-person campus tours last year, leaving students with little information for what could be a life-changing decision.

Sam Morgan, Rock Valley’s Dean of Enrollment and Retention, says the school is trying to adapt.

“One of the big projects that we’re currently working on is we’re revamping our virtual campus tour, and so we’re wanting that to roll out, coming this Fall,” he said. “We’re still trying to bridge that connection to our institution, by kind of doing weekly webinars. In addition to that, we, in the Fall, we hosted the curbside with admissions, where we set up kind of like a drive-in movie. They came, parked, and we were able to have a Q&A and provide some general overview of the college.”

Linsdsay Arreguin and Matthew Heitkamp are seniors at Boylan Catholic High School. They say they think having no available in-person tours makes their decision, of which school to attend, more challenging.

“All I can really do is look at their websites and I can do Google Meets with them,” Arreguin said.

Heitkamp added, “It’s very different from what I thought it was going to be. It’s been a lot of virtual meetings, virtual tours, which are very hard because they don’t give you exactly what you want.”

Morgan has worked in higher education for 9 years. He says Rock Valley has a great support system in place to help students feel better about their decision.

“I know it’s a real nerve-wracking time, but we do have supports in place. We’ve been setting up individualized webinars for specific schools, by high school, really focusing on that graduating class and being able to answer any questions that they may have,” he said.

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