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March 12, 2015

Jo Connelly shows off Boston College's stained glass windows to a group of prospective students. (Mallory Noe-Payne/WGBH).

Even though it's been weeks since a major snowstorm, New England’s college campuses still lay buried under a deep layer of snow and it doesn't look like it will disappear before Opening Day at Fenway. The weather, though, hasn’t deterred prospective students from taking campus tours in Boston.

Boston College’s campus, like the rest of the city, is impatiently waiting for mounds of snow now dirty at the edges to melt away.

The day we took a tour, it was a balmy 55 degrees in the sunshine.

“I’m really jazzed about the sun coming back out,” said student-tour guide Jo Connelly. “Obviously it was an adjustment to this winter, but we’re happy to see the Heights all bright and lit up again.”

Like any good tour guide, Connelly is peppy but even this winter has challenged her spirit.

“It was beautiful at first, but by the time we had 100 inches I was ready to not tour anymore,” Connelly said.

Most New England colleges haven’t let one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record slow down their tour season. Instead they’ve readjusted, spending more time indoors, distributing hand warmers and avoiding the shade.

The admissions office is packed this time of year. It’s prime time for tours as high school juniors are in full-swing search mode and seniors are making final decisions by May 1st.

“This week has been 200 or 300 a day,” reported Chris O’Brien, who runs Boston College’s campus tours. “Next week it will be 400 or 500. The two weeks around Easter we’re thinking about 1,000 or 1,200 a day.”

O’Brien says he hasn’t heard of anyone being scared off by the historic snowfall and frigid temperatures, but he wouldn’t be surprised.

“We might lose a few from Hawaii and Puerto Rico, yeah, perhaps we do but for the people who want this experience they’ll take the weather that comes with the education,” O’Brien said.

Back outside in the sun, there’s still a definite nip in the air. Elijah Hubbard, a sophomore touring from Texas, doesn’t mind though.

“Behind me is a big pile of dirty snow, that’s probably been here for a long time,” Hubbard said. “But I have no problem with it, because I love snow. And I love cold weather.”

Ever the optimist, tour guide Jo Connelly says at least students like Elijah are getting the full picture.

“If they get in, and they decide to come here, snow is definitely a reality,” Connelly said. “I’m sure there are silver linings to it.”

And the recent turn in weather has Connelly, like all of us, keeping her fingers crossed that the worst of winter is finally behind us.

campus tours, snow, Boston College, higher ed, increasing access and success

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