As a high school student navigating the challenges during the early days of the pandemic, I was at the forefront of a new frontier in the college admission process: remote campus visits. When college campuses closed across the country during the outbreak of COVID-19, schools amped up their online visit offerings with virtual tours, 3D maps, webinars, and more. While current options are probably not quite as…distanced…as mine were, I discovered a lot of ways technology can be used for campus visits that I want to share with you (yes—it’s okay to use your phones in my little masterclass!). Here are my top tips on how you can utilize technology to enhance your college tour experiences.
Before visiting a college in person, it can be helpful to explore the campus virtually through video, photo, or other online tours (typically offered through the college’s website). These options are great for getting a preliminary feel for the campus layout, facilities, aesthetics, and more. They’re also a low-stakes way to help you decide if you’re up for taking an in-person tour.
Despite the controversy surrounding artificial intelligence, ChatGPT can be a powerful tool in a variety of ways for campus visits. Not only can it tell you about a school’s campus, its culture, statistics, and other basic info, but you can even ask it to generate an itinerary for your visit. If you’re traveling several hours from home for a college visit or just want to check out the area surrounding the campus, this can be a great help—just be sure to double-check its recommendations so you know they’re not outdated.
Virtual campus maps
If you’re not a fan of traditional paper maps, you’re in luck: Many colleges offer interactive virtual maps on their websites or mobile apps. These are ripe with information and can provide great insight into things like which residence hall you might want to see or what buildings your classes may be in. If you’re touring without a guide, lean on those virtual maps to help you along your visit!
Campus apps and social media
In recent years, more colleges have hopped onto the idea of maintaining their own mobile apps, which are stuffed with information like cafeteria menus, important phone numbers, upcoming events, and more. If a prospective college has one, I recommend downloading it and snooping around to see what’s up on campus. Social media is another powerful tool for keeping track of what’s going on before and during your visit. Be sure to follow the college’s channels to stay informed leading up to your tour.
Live chats with admission, alumni, and student networks
Many colleges now offer the chance to live chat with admission staff through their website. This is a great way to get real-time answers to your questions if you’re visiting a campus without a guide! In addition to chatting with college reps, some institutions also have student- or alumni-run groups on platforms like Facebook and ZeeMee. This is a fantastic opportunity to connect with current students or graduates and get their thoughts about the school, favorite spots, hot tips, and more. If they’re current or local, they might even be willing to grab a quick bite with you while you’re on campus and spill all the details.
Like many businesses and restaurants these days, some colleges have QR codes placed around the campus. These typically offer additional information about the college’s programs, upcoming events, clubs, history, and a wealth of other topics. Grab your phone and scan the codes with your camera to see what you can learn!
While note apps are widely used, it can be easy to sleep on them when you’re excited on a campus tour. But this is a great way to jot down your impressions of the campus, its students, and study areas as well as any questions you want to ask after the tour. I promise, these notes will prove invaluable later when you’re looking back on your visits to make a final decision!
By harnessing the power of technology and using it to your advantage, you can maximize your college campus visit experiences, stay informed, and make well-informed decisions about your future school. Good luck and have fun!
Start enhancing your visit experience now by exploring campuses on our list of CollegeXpress Featured Colleges With Virtual Campus Tours.