Virtual tours become vital in college search

Virtual campus tours, which many schools implemented initially as a way to keep up with the technological times, proved a necessity once the COVID pandemic disrupted the normal flow of the college-seeking process.

Now, college admissions and marketing professionals say virtual campus tours are a vital component of the college search. Using 360-degree video and virtual reality, colleges are able to welcome students to campus from hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

“I think virtual tours can be a great pre-screen or preview for students who have maybe never seen the campus,” says Kristi Lafree, director of enrollment marketing at Butler University in Indiana, which offers a 360-degree video tour alongside supplemental videos. “They maybe want to get a gut check. They want to make sure that if they do come to visit that it will be worth it.”

Hundreds of U.S. colleges now provide prospective students with web-based virtual tours, complete with interactive photos and videos designed to be compatible across all devices. Some schools are even using virtual reality, though VR headsets are required for those experiences.

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