Spring Break college visits thwarted by fears of coronavirus

Sophia Krugler, Managing Editor

Stanford University is one of several colleges that has canceled tours due to fears of spreading the coronavirus. Senior Summer Daniels said she is nervous about making college decisions after some of the schools she was planning to visit canceled tours. “Visiting campuses has a huge impact on college decisions,” Daniels said. “It provides key insight into student life and just the overall atmosphere of the school.” Photo: Margaret Li

Many Palo Alto High School students are canceling their Spring Break plans to visit college campuses as more and more schools cancel tours amid fears of spreading COVID-19. 

Spring Break is a common time for Paly students to visit colleges they are interested in applying to or are considering attending. Junior Avantika Singh said she had planned to visit seven colleges over Spring Break but decided to cancel her trip after two of those colleges canceled tours in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Days after her decision, she was notified by three more colleges that their tours had been canceled. 

Colleges that have canceled tours include Columbia University, Yale University, Brown University, Tufts University, University of California Los Angeles, Stanford University, New York University, Dartmouth College, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Washington, Tulane University, Boston University, Boston College, California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wesleyan University, Vassar College, and Middlebury College. This is a partial list gathered today based on letters obtained by Paly Voice staff members.

Singh said experiencing the atmosphere of a school is important when making college decisions, and she said she has ruled out prospective colleges after visiting campuses.

“It’s just different to go in person,” Singh said. ”Ever since I started going on tours, I started realizing how seeing the school and the people that go there and what it’s like makes a difference in your college experience because that’s where you’re going to be for the next four years.”

Many Palo Alto High School students have received emails like this one informing them that their plans to tour colleges over Spring Break have been canceled amid fears of spreading the coronavirus.

Senior Summer Daniels said she had planned to visit her top college choices over Spring Break, but as more and more colleges cancel tours, she is unsure if she will be able to see any of the campuses in person. 

It’s pretty nerve-wracking to have to make this large of a life decision feeling like you don’t have all the information you could’ve had, and it’s definitely not how I envisioned the college process for myself,” Daniels said. 

An increasing number of colleges are opting to cancel classes or transition to online courses in order to prevent the virus from spreading, and Daniels said the value of visiting colleges greatly decreases when no students are on the campus.

“It seems not worth it, especially if I have to take a plane to get there, to go walk around a school if all the students are gone and the campus is completely dead,” Daniels said. 

Although tour cancellations are preventing students from visiting campuses, students still have access to online resources such as school websites and virtual tours, and Daniels says she hopes colleges will give prospective students access to as much information about their school as possible.

“At the end of the day, it’s not impossible to try to make the best decision for yourself without touring a school,” Daniels said. “I’m just hoping colleges will try to provide as many resources as they can for their potential incoming classes in order to make the students’ decisions a lot easier.”