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Covid-19: How to get a feel for a campus when you can’t visit in person

If you're a prospective international student searching for a university during Covid-19, these tips will help you explore a campus without visiting in person

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Joy Hunter's avatar

Joy Hunter

Student content curator
March 12 2021
searching for universities online, how will students get a feel for campus?


With Covid-19 making in-person campus visits a challenge, many prospective students are missing out on a crucial factor in choosing a university this year: the gut feeling you have when you visit.

Thanks to rankings, course listings, university websites and webinars, it’s easier than ever to research universities online, but it can be hard to replicate visiting in person.

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Use these tips to help you get a feel for a campus, even from thousands of miles away.

  1. Use social media and student YouTubers

If you have a list of universities you’re interested in, it’s worth following them on social media to stay up to date with the latest news, deadlines and events of interest.

However, remember that universities use social media to present themselves in the best possible way to prospective students. For a more authentic picture of university life, have a look for vlogs and videos made by students themselves, which should be easy to find just by searching YouTube.

Many university societies and student-run publications have their own social media platforms. If you know the sort of extracurricular activities you might be interested in, go digging for the social media accounts of relevant clubs and societies to get a feel for what’s really on offer.


Can’t visit a university in person? Here’s what to do! ##learnontiktok ##edutok ##uni ##unilifehacks ##uniapplications ##virtualtour ##campustours ##college

♬ Paper Birds (3 min) - Jordan Halpern Schwartz

2. Take virtual tour

Most universities now have virtual campus tours available online. Many are interactive and include tours of accommodation as well as faculties and lecture halls. Universities will often shoot these on the sunniest day possible, so don’t forget the weather may not always be as nice when you get there.

When it comes to exploring the local area beyond campus, you can always do your own virtual tour using Google Earth. It’s also worth looking up student-run newspapers and publications for the university you’re interested in. These will often feature guides to the surrounding area for incoming students and tips on the best places to go. Many YouTubers and bloggers will also have guides on what there is to do outside lectures at your prospective university. 

  1. Don't be afraid to contact the university directly

Especially now that there are so many readily available university resources online, prospective students can be a little shy when it comes to contacting university staff directly and asking for further information – but don’t be. 

Universities often have entire teams dedicated to access and outreach who are waiting to hear from you. Often, they can also put you in touch with current students who are willing to chat.

If you have questions about courses and what you can do to prepare for your application, university professor’s emails are usually listed on university websites and you can contact them directly with specific questions.

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  1. Reach out to your network

Do you know anyone who is currently studying at the university you’re interested in? Did anyone from your school end up there who you can be put in touch with through your teachers? Don’t be afraid to ask around your own and your school’s network of contacts to find someone who can help and can give you a first-hand account of university life. 

  1. Have a look at the stats

One way to cut through the noise while researching universities is to go straight to the data. When you do this, it’s a good idea to have a list of things that matter to you, so you know what you’re looking for from the statistics.

Is a large, diverse city a priority for you? What about the gender balance of the staff or number of state school students? Making a list of ideal university attributes will help narrow down your search and get a sense of what the student atmosphere may actually be like. Times Higher Education has a range of rankings measuring a number of these aspects, which you can browse here

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