TAMPA, Fla. — All across the country, colleges and universities are trying to welcome prospective students without those students setting foot on campus by way of virtual tours.

  • USF, UT, Eckerd College all offering virtual tours
  • All 3 schools say they anticipate no effect on enrollment by pandemic
  • More Education stories

It’s taken time, but high school senior Ashanti McDaniel has finally come to terms with the fact that coronavirus has hijacked her last year of school.

“It’s a little disappointing that I’m not going to be able to walk across the stage and I have to virtually get my diploma through an email,” said McDaniel. 

But the part she still can’t wrap her mind around is doing college visits from her Apollo Beach bedroom.

“Everything looks good on the internet, but you can actually pick up a vibe if you want to be there when you’re actually in person. But I cannot do that,” said McDaniel. 

It's a problem higher education institutions everywhere are doing their best to mitigate.

“It’s a whirlwind,” said Evan Jaynes, who works in the USF Office of Admissions. 

Jaynes says the students who visit a college campus are 20 percent more likely to enroll, and since that can’t happen this year, USF is bringing the campus to them.

“One of the really exciting things we’ve done is create this live-hosted virtual tour experience,” said Jaynes.

The tour is narrated by a student tour guide. Prospective students are able to ask questions in real-time through a message portal.

University of Tampa is offering something similar.

“We’re offering virtual information sessions Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week. We also do have a virtual tour online so students are able to go on and see our beautiful campus,” said Samantha Speziale, who works in the University of Tampa Admissions Office. 

Meanwhile, Eckerd College is offering Q&A panels along with opportunities for prospective students to chat with current students.

It’s not the ideal scenario, but given the times, they’re doing the best they can to help all prospective students 

“We’re in this position, we’re in this profession to help you discover what’s the best fit for you,” said Jacob Browne, who works in the Eckerd College Office of Admissions. 

He encourages students to reach out to any school with questions or concerns, and to go with their gut in the decision making process.

All three schools say as of now, they are planning to reopen campus in the fall and do not expect enrollment to be impacted by the virus.