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Why 360-Degree Virtual
Campus Tour is Important for Colleges

Date/15 Mar, 2022

Fall is that time of the year when high school seniors visit campuses, collect admission brochures or attend college fairs to make one of the most crucial life decisions – higher education. 80% of students reported that campus visits play a “very important” or “extremely important” role in their college selection process. But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, open houses and college visits have shrunk to a bare minimum.

Today, college admission officers and counsellors are challenged to adapt to the changing landscape and provide students with valuable information to help them make informed decisions. High school students are fussing over their inability to visit college campuses and take standardised tests. In this scenario, digital technology – and specifically virtual college tours – have taken a centre stage.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on educators but it would be wrong to think that students aren’t researching colleges & universities right now. With “stay at home” norms still prevalent, they now have more time on their hands – and this time is being overwhelmingly spent on the Internet. Hence, colleges and universities need a dynamic online presence to stay competitive and attract more students.

The answer is virtual tours. The fast-paced evolution of Virtual Reality (VR) technology has paved the way for creating attention-grabbing virtual campus tours. It offers the students an immersive and in-depth experience of how it is like to be at the college campus – at any time and from anywhere. From exquisite views of pebbled trails to hi-tech classrooms to lively common rooms, virtual tours provide a slice of campus life.

More colleges are leveraging 360-degree virtual campus tours to welcome prospective students, even if they are located thousands of miles away. It functions as an effective sorting tool for candidates weighing different colleges in the absence of an option to visit the campus in person. College officials acknowledge that virtual tours are an efficient and more streamlined way of familiarising students with the campus.

Ross Holmes, the head of ICEF’s virtual reality services, says, “Virtual reality really has the wow factor when experienced through a dedicated VR headset, but the content created can and should resonate on every channel.” The idea is to provide the experience across multiple devices, including web, mobile and even VR goggles. 360° videos, published on YouTube, can also be used to create a strong brand image and spread the word.

And as revealed, the future of learning is widely effective due to innovative methodologies assisted by state-of-the-art technology. At the latest, it enfolds the effective benefits like:

  • Flexible learning
  • Full-fledged career opportunities
  • Liberty to Learn

But are virtual college tours really worth the time and money?

Numbers say it all…
Concept3D, a company dedicated to curating interactive virtual experiences, reported visitors viewing over 485,000 virtual tours in just the first 6 months of 2021. Furthermore, it is found that high school seniors are taking virtual campus tours at a significantly faster pace than they were last year.
A popular college search platform, YouVisit, reported that their virtual campus tour had a viewership of about 1.4 million between March 13 and April 13, 2020. And despite lenient COVID-19 protocols in place today, the demand for 360-degree virtual campus tours is poised to grow remarkably in years to come. So,

Why your college needs a virtual tour?

  • If prospective students cannot visit your college, bring it to them. A virtual tour helps build acquaintance with your college campus and its facilities, say various classrooms, student lounges, tech rooms, Bloomberg labs, computer labs, etc. You can also include short messages from the dean, faculty members or ex-students to make the tour more interactive.
  • Use virtual reality to create tours that emphasise the USP of your college or university. Highlight the neighbourhood, career counselling & placements, green initiatives or other factors that make your college stand out.
  • When a large percentage of high school seniors and their parents are spending more time online, colleges are pushed to create a strong brand impression. 360-degree virtual tours offer an interactive and immersive experience that can go a long way to engage and educate the students beyond a typical website.
  • Through a virtual campus tour in India, you can represent real students working on exciting projects in a science lab, the latest technology in action, exciting basketball matches and much more. In-person tours are somewhat mundane and do not cover these small intricacies that make the campus life more rewarding. As such, there is a higher rate of converting prospective students to enrolments.

How colleges are using 360-degree virtual college tours?

With the demand for virtual tours increasing rapidly, many colleges are now using digital technology to build an engaging experience for their prospective students. Agnes Scott College is a women’s college in Atlanta that has been recently using videos to build familiarity with their academic and other key facilities, such as the library, the dining hall, science labs, the quad, dormitory rooms, etc. Fordham University also provides its students streaming videos with personal tours of one of their campuses.
 Many such examples clearly indicate that the education sector is apprehensive about how virtual campus tours are shaping their future in recruiting fresh students.