With Covid campus closures this summer, what is a good way to see what the student population and culture/vibe is like?Answered
I'm a rising senior in high school trying to get a feel for student life at prospective colleges but there are no official visits allowed.
Almost every college has Virtual campus tours and information sessions this admissions cycle. And I recommend watching a variety of youtube videos from students who attend the school. Some are focused on "day in the life of that campus", some on "dorm tour", some on athletics or social life. Luckily I visited 20 schools last summer but still watched the videos anyway to see if they were different than my observations. Sometimes you get more details from the videos because very few of the campus tours show the actual dorm rooms or dining halls or gyms etc. I went to the Harvard info session and it was pretty much a few hundred people in a theater watching a canned video that you can watch yourself on youtube. I didn't get anything out of that meeting. And the MIT tour was better but you still don't get to see dorms, dining halls, gyms, or how people spend their free time. It's more like an architectural tour where you see the oldest building on campus, the biggest building, the newest building, and some anecdotal evidence that something important happened there at some previous time. I especially like the videos that start off like "the reasons I hate NYU!". Those are more believable than the highly produced ones that feel like commercials.
I've been watching the collegevine livestreams Q&As with current students https://www.collegevine.com/livestreams/playlist/student-qa?qa
I use them to get a sense of the vibe because they are hosted by collegevine and not the college itself, so it feels very honest. Also, compared to the youtube vids I watch, the collegevine ones show more perspectives and I know those students def aren't trying to becomes youtube stars. If you watch one of the collegevine ones LIVE, you can ask your own question to the current students. I've had my questions answered a few times and that's been helpful.
It is worth trying if you're looking to learn more about culture and you can find a school from your list. Hope this helps.