Cover of 2020-2021 Idaho college booklet made by the Idaho Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers

Idaho colleges are reaching out to prospective students this week through a series of virtual admission visits.

The Spring Higher Education Tours, which continue through Friday, are the first and only major virtual college recruitment events taking place this spring for Idaho colleges. All 12 colleges in the state are taking part in the weeklong program, organized by the Idaho Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

The tours consist of Zoom calls with representatives from different Idaho colleges, who can share information with students and answer their questions about the school. Meetings are available for both juniors and seniors, as some of the older students may not have attended any college recruitment events since last year as the coronavirus shut down many spring events in 2020.

Effie Hernandez is a recruitment coordinator for the College of Eastern Idaho and is chairwoman of the Higher Education Tour committee. She said that while some colleges and high schools have made it possible to do in-person visits with students, the virtual version helps to balance the outreach.

“There are high schools that are allowing visitors, but how many are comfortable with lettings all of us in at once to meet with students? We wanted things to be safe and work for everyone,” Hernandez said.

Zoom interview slots are open around 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day this week. Tuesday and Thursday also have 7 p.m. tour calls to allow interested parents to take part.

“There’s a lot of information to get into a half-hour session,” said Kyle Peck, an admissions adviser for Idaho State University. “We try to have local students log in to talk about their experiences on campus or being involved in clubs and intramural sports.”

The coordinated tours are part of an outreach effort to combat early signs that the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to affect college enrollment. State Board of Education Executive Director Matt Freeman told lawmakers in January that fewer students had applied for the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship or federal student aid programs this year.

After the Zoom tours, students can fill out a contact card to send their information to colleges where they’re interested in applying. Hernandez said the association will have a total number of students who have taken part at the end of February.

Brennen is the main education reporter for the Post Register. Contact him with news tips at 208-542-6711.