I made my college choice without visiting campus. Here’s how I did it.

A small lagoon, green space and the CSU Rec Center are seen with mountain foothills in the background.

Imagine yourself on a roller coaster that is about to plummet straight down into a pitch-black tunnel. It’s scary, because you really have no way of predicting what the experience will be like or what you’ll encounter next. That’s how it felt when I chose to come to Colorado State and had never visited and had no idea what to expect, from intangible things like campus culture to more physical things like classroom buildings, residence halls, and public transportation.

Whether you’re coming from another continent (like me), another state, or even another city in Colorado, choosing a college without visiting can be daunting. Thankfully, there are still many ways to get to really get to know the character, culture and community of CSU from afar.

How I “visited” without visiting

When I started researching CSU, I remember sitting down and googling things like “CSU campus images,” looking for literally any photos, videos, or reviews of CSU. I felt less overwhelmed when I saw pictures of the layout of campus and residence halls because I could begin picturing myself there.

This interactive map of campus helped me get a sense of where residence halls were located on campus and what they were like. You can also explore campus by taking a virtual tour. I wanted to be closer to the academic spine/classroom buildings (on the east side of campus), so I started looking at halls that were in the middle of campus. You can explore residence halls by taking a virtual 360º tour of the rooms in each hall, which is super helpful when trying to decide whether you would prefer community or suite-style living, as well as where on campus you’d like to live.

I also visited websites that gave more information on campus culture, dining halls, and academic programs. From seeing that CSU would have food options that accommodated my dietary restrictions to learning more about the Honors Program and deciding on a major, I began to feel less anxious. Although I didn’t have everything figured out just yet, I could envision myself being successful here.

Where I think you should start

From connecting one-on-one with current students to joining one of my favorite tours — the Live-and-on-Location Tour“visiting” CSU without coming here has never been easier. Virtual tours, webinars, and admitted student information sessions give a broad overview of CSU. Talking with current students one-on-one via our college-specific virtual appointments (we like to call them Coffee Chats) can help answer some of your questions about academics as well as questions about student life. Starting with any of these experiences will get you connected with other resources to help you feel confident that you’re making an informed — and less overwhelming — decision about choosing CSU.

A few things I learned once I got here

During my first weeks, I learned a few things that I wish I had known before I came to CSU. One of them is that CSU is a large campus, compared to other universities. Bringing a bike can be a HUGE help if you’re late for class, like I usually am, or live in one of the halls that is further away from classroom buildings. But don’t worry about it being “too big.” It only takes me 15 minutes to walk from one end of campus to the other, and, pro tip, there’s an on-campus bus called Around the Horn that is a lifesaver on those cold wintery days.

A final takeaway

Regardless of how you choose to “visit” schools, take your time. Sitting down in front of a computer to look at “all the schools” in one day stressed me out! Plan your virtual visits and research times in one- or two-hour chunks throughout the week, like you would a class. “Visiting” little by little can be way less overwhelming and can give you time to process thoughts and questions about each school you are considering. I knew I wasn’t alone in making my school choice from far away, and neither are you.

Mary is a triple major in International Studies, Political Science, and Spanish with a minor in Mandarin Chinese. She is a member of a student ministry, Third Culture Kid (TCK) organization, and Knits of the Round Table (knitting club). She is also a student in the University Honors Program. Mary works as a student ambassador with the Office of Admissions and as a student archivist at CSU Morgan Library’s Archives and Special Collections. In her free time, Mary loves to play beach volleyball on the sand courts on campus, hammock, swim, read, go to the $2 movie theater, and find new places to eat in Fort Collins.

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