Virtual Reality: The Future of Campus Tours

While nothing can replace the old-fashioned, in-person college tour, virtual reality tours can, at least, help you narrow down which colleges are worth visiting in person.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, YouVisit

Last Updated: Sep 4, 2015

Your college search has begun: the brochures are arriving in the mail, and you’ve visited the websites of the most promising schools.But it can be difficult to get passed a school’s marketing material to get a real understanding of what it would be like to attend that university. This is why campus visits are so important.

Unfortunately, in-person visits can be costly and time consuming, especially if you’re interested in schools located in different parts of the country or even around the world.  Thankfully, colleges and universities are embracing new technology that can give you a first-hand tour that’s almost like being there, right from your living room.

While nothing can replace the old-fashioned, in-person college tour, virtual reality tours can, at least, help you narrow down which colleges are worth visiting in person.

Virtual reality and higher education

Students and their families can discover and experience schools around the world using virtual reality. In these virtual reality tours, you’ll see 360-degree views of a school’s campus, classrooms, dorms, and libraries in an incredibly immersive way.

With this planning tool, you’ll be able to better understand what it might be like to attend a handful of schools and then decide on which to actually visit in person.

How are schools using virtual reality? Many have created easily accessible online virtual reality tours, and others are bringing virtual reality headsets with them to college fairs and events.

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), for example, has been a frontrunner in providing potential students with the virtual reality experience. In fact, as part of the school’s recruitment strategy this year, SCAD sent out 5,000 cardboard virtual reality headsets, used in conjunction with smart phones, to students who had been accepted but had not enrolled.

But there are faster ways to experience schools in virtual reality than waiting for a college or university to invite you to do so.

Take your own virtual reality tour

You can access college virtual reality tours online through websites like YouVisit and free smartphone apps. In both cases, you’ll need a virtual reality headset, which can be purchased online or crafted yourself.

Google Cardboard headsets retail as low as $13, and generic versions are available for less. You can also easily find online instruction for building your own headset (like this one!) out of a cardboard box, magnets, lenses, and some other basic materials.

College tours of the future

The popularity of virtual reality tours is only expected to increase, as Oculus, HTC, and Sony are set to release their first consumer-market virtual reality headsets next year, and colleges are leading the way in developing virtual reality content.

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About Abi Mandelbaum

Abi Mandelbaum is co-founder and chief executive officer of YouVisit, a technology company that develops virtual tours and virtual reality tours for a varied industries, including education, hospitality, real estate, travel and leisure, and many others.


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