Technology has changed higher education dramatically since I last sat in a college classroom. Everything from library resources to career services is more streamlined and accessible. Students from around the world can access similar materials and opportunities.
And yet, place still matters. Students choose their colleges for different reasons, ranging from the practical to the romantic, but for many the deciding factor is that ineffable sense of belonging that comes the first time you step onto a campus that truly feels like home. When it happens, students know this is where they want to spend their next four years. And when students find that home away from home, colleges can expect higher retention and graduation rates.
So what happens when students can’t set foot on campuses at all?
This is one of the many challenges facing colleges this fall, as a beloved American tradition – the college road trip – is off the table thanks to Covid-19. How do students and colleges make that match when they can’t connect in person? How are colleges supposed to enchant and recruit students from afar? Does any college website “feel like home?”