More and more colleges are taking advantage of multimedia to help widen their reach to students across the country and across the world. Obviously, the best way to get a feel for a particular campus is to visit in person. You can interact with current students on your own terms, sit in on classes and even visit overnight. But with many students applying to 8-10 colleges across the country, it’s not feasible for most students to visit every campus before they apply.
That’s okay. I recommend that students and families use some of the virtual tour sites to “look” around campus and get a feel for the school before applying and then plan visits to the schools that you are accepted to and definitely might choose to attend.
How do you virtually visit campus? With a virtual campus tour. These tours can run the gamut from shaky hand-held video to slickly produced ad spots for campuses. In between you can find slideshows, 360° panoramic photographs, and even collections of interviews with students-all of which give different insight into the culture of a campus. Let’s look more closely at a few.
The first place you should look is on the school’s official website. Here you should find some means of looking at campus via a video tour or slideshow. If you’re having trouble, I recommend visiting CampusTours.com for basic information as well as a link to the school’s preferred tour.
Some of the tours you find will have been produced by Youvisit.com. Youvisit produces audiovisual--and just visual--panoramic tours of campuses, travel destinations, businesses, and events and venues. The Youvisit tours are optimized for most platforms: laptop, tablet, phone and even virtual reality! Ecampustours.com also offers panoramic photo tours as well as some college admissions information.
Youniversity TV provides commercially produced video spots about campus, similar to the college commercials you see during football games. These videos are difficult to watch on phones, which make them less useful for students than they might be for parents. The student-on-the-street interviews as CollegeClick TV are more Millenial-friendly, and better provide an actual feel for the campus and its students vs the professional marketing pieces at Youniversity or Youvisit. Once you figure out the tags that interest you, you can search for videos from multiple campuses about their athletics or theatre programs, for example, which can help you expand your college search.
Whichever site or sites you choose to use, remember that the only way to get an authentic feel for a campus is to visit in person. But virtual campus tours can be a good way to narrow your travel choices.
Lessa Scherrer is an college admissions consultant who has worked with college-bound students for many years. She is a member of NACAC and WACAC and also teaches ACT Prep, speed-reading, college study skills and college-level writing.
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