Developing a great list of colleges takes time, research, and a whole lot of self-reflection. 

Throw in a global pandemic and remove the prospect of being able to visit a school in person, and knowing how to research colleges can be even tougher. 

But is it impossible? Not at all.

In fact, given the costs associated with visiting colleges (flights, hotels, gas, time off from school or work), visiting campuses isn’t realistic for everyone. 

Keep in mind that thousands of students develop balanced college lists and even commit to attending their college without ever stepping foot on campus. 

In the age of Instagram and TikTok and with the explosion of free online resources, plus a growing commitment this year by colleges to provide virtual visits in the era of COVID-19, there’s never been a better time to research colleges from the comfort of your phone or laptop.

So here are four tips and resources to help you do just that.

Already accepted to a few colleges and bummed you can’t visit anymore? These resources will help you too.

  1. A Practical Guide to Creating a Great College List: Start here. It’s got tons of resources and takes you step by step through a process to figure out:

    1. What do I want out of my college experience?

    2. Where should I start researching?

    3. How do I organize all my research?

  2. Virtual College Tours Master Spreadsheet: This awesome resource includes links to tons of virtual tours for over a thousand colleges. It’s a great quick-reference resource that links to schools’ official YouTube channels, plus CampusReel, YOUniversityTV, and YouVisit pages for hundreds of colleges. Plus, you’ll find key info on size, location, and whether or not schools are offering virtual info session. (Many thanks to Rebecca Chabrow for pulling this together.)

  3. This master spreadsheet of virtual college admissions events. Kelly Fraser at Green Apple College compiled this great spreadsheet that lists the virtual college admissions events and opportunities being hosted by hundreds of colleges. It’ll save you having to dig through each college’s website.

  4. Lots of college virtual tours can be a bit, well, just okay. You’ll get insight into how one particular college’s biology program is ranked number whatever in the United States, or hear about its 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. But CampusReel tours are led by current students, usually on their phone (selfie-style), so you get invited right into their dorm room, classroom, or dining hall. If you’re looking for a more authentic peek into the student experience, CampusReel is a great place to start.

So there you have it. Throw on some headphones, put on your favorite playlist, and get lost. 

Happy researching.