College Tours vs COVID

Has anyone tried to just go to campuses and walk around to get a sense for the school and students? Are colleges forbidding visitors? Will be asked to leave? Hate to travel and not be able to do anything, but really having a hard time developing a list, especially since so many that schools that pique my S’s interest are far from home and in places I would not think he would necessary gravitate toward for various reasons (rural location, city location, hot/humid weather, large university).

We’re just back from visiting several on our own. A couple we had student guides (friends, not official). Couldn’t go in buildings, but no issues walking. You’re expected to wear a mask. We visited several others earlier during lockdown, too. Never had an issue.
That being said, if you’re flying or traveling a far distance, I would call/email and ask.

This summer I made two visits (driving through campus) to College in the last few days, I had a tour scheduled before the covid, so I did not cancel the hotel, and I spent a couple of very good days getting to know the college town and the surroundings. I drove about ten minutes inside the College, there were no notices prohibiting entry, although it was brief because I did not want to risk a bad experience. At first I did not want to visit the College because I thought it could be counterproductive, my daughter losing interest when she saw everything desolate, fortunately it did not happen, She liked the College, and my wife and I too, and really liked the County, so much, that we returned the following weekend , since it is a 3 hour driving from home.

The second visit to another College was yesterday, my daughter does not plan to apply to it because not have the major of her choice, however we were pleasantly surprised by the facilities, so much so that even desolate my daughter made her want to apply.

Each school may have a different policy, so you should look at the websites for places you are considering visiting. For example, my son’s school, a Midwest LAC, is currently conducting tours again, although visitors are not permitted to enter any buildings. There have also been a number of posts recently from people who have done what you just described and walked around campuses on their own.

thanks, do you mind sharing your 's school? It’s so hard. the options/limit change daily. We live in NY and when we return from most states need to quarantine for 2 weeks, but even that list changes regularly. So frustrating. I feel so bad for our kids.

If you are wearing masks and socially distancing, I don’t think you’ll be stopped on most campuses. That said, be very aware about what the rules are in the area you are visiting. Some campuses and surrounding communities are now issuing fines for noncompliance. You should also know what the rules are for restaurants in the area.

Do you mind sharing your route? wondering which schools are receptive, I’ve seen several website explicitly asking outsiders not to come to campus. I get it, but we are really having tough time coming up with a list. Not sure how you are supposed commit to spending 250-300K without a look. And, I have two kids in the college process who are very different students.

@SchoolNews , my son is at Denison. He works with Admissions and is one of the students leading tours. I looked quickly at the websites for Wooster, Oberlin and Kenyon, which are overlap schools within an hour or two of Denison, and it looks like Wooster and Oberlin are also doing tours and Kenyon, while not doing tours per se, is offering to chat over coffee and holding info sessions. Ohio has been handling things careful throughout the pandemic, and the numbers are currently coming down. It appears the state was removed from New York’s advisory list a couple of weeks ago.

Many kids are visiting colleges right now. I don’t know if many colleges are offering tours. Look at their websites for Vitoria tours and self guided tours.

My S and I just returned from a quick trip from PA to NC. We walked a couple (Penn and GW) and drove around others (Georgetown, Richmond and Duke). We wanted to be respectful of each of the school’s policies and abided by their rules. Even seeing the campus from the car was very helpful and then were able to see the surrounding areas, etc. And now we quarantine - but it was worth it!

If you can name schools you are interested in, someone’s child may be able to informally show you around or answer questions. My son is heading to Northeastern. Looks like there are no group tours at this time, but they can connect you with a Husky Ambassador.

We toured Vassar a few weeks ago, the day before they were completely closing the campus to everyone, even those just walking around (don’t ask me how they are enforcing this). Vassar is trying to create a bubble.

We also visited Washington & Lee around that time, and did the virtual tour (on my son’s phone) in real life — that is, we stood outside the various buildings, while the online tour told us about them.

If the school is small, I would definitely check to see if they are allowing visitors at all (but, I’m a rule-follower!).

We’re starting to get emails that a few colleges are opening for tours again. I imagine the groups are smaller and have varying precautions in place, but it couldn’t hurt to check the web pages of those of interest to see.

For those unable to visit campus physically, many admissions websites post virtual tours of campus, and a lot of them can also be found here: (this link forces you to provide your email, so either go directly through the school, use a fake email, or try (ex: or