Jul   2012



The Next Level in Virtual Campus Tours

Assistant Editor, Online Specialist, Carnegie Communications

If you’re starting the college search, there’s a darn good chance you've considered a school that was too far away for a visit. Gas and flights are expensive, and what if you shell out all that time and money just to get rejected? Sure, college websites have virtual tours, but let’s be honest . . . they’re a little—how can we put this nicely?—bland.

Enter YouVisit. YouVisit is a website that collaborates with schools to give you a virtual walking tour of a college campus. How does that differ from the tours on college websites, you ask? Most online tours are just a set of pictures and videos. But the YouVisit team takes an actual guided admission tour of the campus, and bases their virtual tour on that same exact path. You even get a tour guide to talk you through each point of interest, providing the next best thing to being there in-person.

With over 150 schools using YouVisit, the website has provided over two million tours since it was first established. With that many tours—and much more to come—YouVisit has to be doing something right.

CollegeXpress spoke to one of the brains behind the website, CEO and co-founder Abi Mandelbaum. Originally from Columbia, he went to Brandeis University and roomed with two other international students (who just happen to be the other two co-founders of YouVisit). They experienced first-hand the challenges of visiting a campus when living in another country, so the idea of YouVisit was born.

By clicking on a school, you’re immediately brought to that college’s YouVisit page, which includes a walking tour, 360-degree views, videos, photos, and links to schedule a visit, apply online, or learn more about that particular school.

These tours are not only available through the YouVisit website, but you can also share them through Facebook and use the mobile phone or tablet applications to take the tours. When students are on a campus, they can launch the GPS-enabled mobile app, allowing them to walk through campus, understand where they are, and listen to a tour guide with automated messages based on their campus location.

“The benefit for prospective students and their families is that it allows them to walk through campuses right from the comfort of their home, saving time and money,” Mandelbaum says. “Many times, families arrive on campus and miss the tour, or no tour is being offered. But with the mobile app, you just load the tour and start walking—instead of a map, you get an app.”

The colleges are mostly in the United States, but tours have been added from schools in Canada and Europe as well. The tours are even offered in different languages—like Mandarin—so that international students can fully understand what they’re seeing on each campus.

“Families can utilize YouVisit to narrow down the list of colleges they will eventually visit physically,” he adds. “And the virtual walking tour allows [colleges] to reach out-of-state and international students. . . . It really is a win-win for everyone involved.”

Check out YouVisit.com to tour some campuses for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comment box below!

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About Catherine Seraphin

Catherine Seraphin

Catherine Seraphin is the Multimedia Project Manager at Harvard University, formerly the Assistant Editor, Online Specialist for Carnegie Communications. Catherine graduated from Penn State University with a degree in journalism, a minor in English, and course concentrations in business. She was previously an in-depth arts reporter for Penn State’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Collegian, and interned as a features reporter at a paper based in Southern Massachusetts. Catherine previously had a full-year internship with a well-known higher education PR firm. Her favorite experiences during college include her two years as a resident assistant and her involvement in THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. There, she was on the PR committee that helped THON become the third most tweeted topic worldwide. When she isn’t working, you can find Catherine shopping, reading, running, or updating her social media pages.

You can circle Catherine on Google+, follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to her CollegeXpress blog.

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