Trouble With Touring: NAHS Seniors Take On College Visits Amid Pandemic


Laurel Martin

Go West: The Class of 2021 has seen plenty of changes – and the whole notion of a college visit has been turned on its head because of the pandemic. Senior Foard Martin still managed to do a traditional campus visit out West where he visited the University of Arizona. While there he was able to visit with his sister, Rieley Martin, a North Atlanta Class of 2019 graduate, who attends the school in Tucson.

It’s officially November, meaning it’s midway through college application season for the next graduating class of high school seniors, except obviously conditions are special this go-around. The pandemic has made college tours difficult for many, as in-person tours are scarce and many students stay virtual for safety reasons. However, North Atlanta students are taking actions to explore as many collegiate opportunities as possible, with some taking special trips out of state.

As far as in-state goes, most Georgia schools have offered many online question and answer sessions and virtual visits to compensate for safety and limited in-person spots. Many collegiate representatives from in-state and out have reached out to North Atlanta administrators to help coordinate these sessions over the last two months. Ms. Shellie Marino and other counselors helped schedule multiple virtual collegiate sessions almost every week of school during the early-application period, showing their helpfulness as many Georgia schools saw an increase in early-applicants. However, many feel that it’s just not the full experience. “Virtual visits are somewhat effective, they definitely helped me with my essays and when to get certain things in for deadlines,” said senior Evan Elgison. “But, nothing can replace actually being on campus, seeing Athens would’ve been really nice.”

While many students have stayed within the safe parameters of virtual visits, some have not let the pandemic permute their plans. Senior Foard Martin was one of the graduating class members that took their college touring to the next level, as he toured not only in person but all the way across the country. Through connections, Martin was able to fly out to several cities and get tours from current students on the west coast. Martin mainly looked at PAC-12 schools, including the University of Colorado in Buffalo and the University of Arizona in Tucson to see his sister, Rieley Martin, a North Atlanta Class of 2019 graduate. Although he’s not sure if he will even be a Buffalo or a Wildcat, Martin won’t forget the experiences he had out West. “It was nice for a change to get a chance to get out and go west, online tours don’t really do justice to these campuses so being in person was really nice,” said Martin. 

Unfortunately for this year’s seniors, college visiting was not quite the enjoyable experience they had envisioned prior to the uneventful events 2020 has brought. Although there is no scenario to match the benefits of experiencing a campus in person, all seniors and administrators can do is push for the next best thing. Whether it’s a virtual tour from the comfort of their couches or making trips across the country — all while masked and keeping safe distance — the Class of 2021 is not letting a global pandemic stand in the way of their collegiate dreams.