Most college counselors encourage college bound students to visit the colleges they are considering. However, when students are looking at colleges all over the country, the cost of visiting can really add up. In addition to the physical cost such as airfare, gas, and hotels, it also takes time to travel and take the college tours. When the visit is out of the question, at least when trying to narrowing down the college list, a virtual tour is a great alternative.
A virtual tour is a way for prospective students to see a college campus without leaving their home. Each virtual tour will look a little different, but each will allow students to see a moving picture of the college campus. In addition, most virtual tours allow prospective students to meet real students and professors at the institutions.
Many colleges and universities offer virtual tours of their campuses. Virtual tours can be found on the institutional website or their YouTube channels. The virtual tours found on college websites will usually look very different when comparing colleges. Some videos will be fun and lively with lots of music, while others will be detailed and professional. These videos are great at showing the personality of the institution. However, if prospective students are looking for more uniform videos, many colleges have worked with third party vendors such as YOUniversityTV and YouVisit. These websites also provide virtual tours of the colleges. The videos on these websites will all cover the same things such as location, academics, extracurricular activities, admissions, and financial aid. The videos are very similar and allow students to learn the same things about colleges.
All of the videos students can find for a college or university are valuable. They allow students to get a feel for the institutions, the students, and the campus community. Virtual tours and college videos should be part of the college search process for all students. Not only will virtual tours save students and families money, they will help students narrow down their college list.
While virtual tours are a great way to get an initial view of a campus, there are a few things to keep in mind when viewing virtual tours:
- Virtual tours are promotional videos. Colleges spend a lot of money to make these videos and will show prospective students what the institution wants them to see. In addition, the people who are interviewed or talk about their experiences are hand selected by the college. Therefore, the videos will be a somewhat biased. However, for the initial look at the college, virtual tours still do a good job of letting prospective students get a feel for the campus community.
- Not everything will be covered. Virtual tours may not show everything you want to see when considering a college. Just because you don’t see something in the video doesn’t mean they do not have it. Do further research to see if they offer the things you are looking for in a college.
- Nothing compares to a real visit when a student actually steps on campus. Therefore, while virtual tours are great to get ideas and thoughts about colleges and universities, students should try their best to visit campuses before making the final decision on what college they will ultimately attend.
The next time you are considering colleges, one of the first stops should be the virtual tour.