Virtual tours can be a significant way to gather information about a college a student would like to consider, particularly if it is one that would be costly to travel to in person. Here are some tips regarding what you can and can’t expect to get from a virtual tour:
Use the virtual tour as a preview before you arrive on campus for a personal visit. If you know ahead of time what the guide is likely to say, you can turn your attention to the unscripted information you can gather by looking at diversity on campus, bulletin boards, and the way student interact with each other as they pass the tour group.
Even if a virtual tour is your only option for seeing campus, don’t let it be your only option for finding out about the college. Many tour guides or students affiliated with the admissions office post blogs containing valuable insights into student life. The may provide contact information, which you should use to make personal contact through telephone and e-mail.
Expect the virtual tour on the college website to be as packaged as the rest of the college’s promotional materials. Try to look at additional virtual tours (simply Google the college name and “virtual tour”). Be patient and set aside time to equipment and timing issues.
Applicants to larger colleges will be more likely to find good virtual tours. But whatever your research process, try if possible to make direct contact with students and faculty at colleges you are considering in order to get the best understanding of campus culture.
My students use many approaches to finding out about colleges. If you could use some personalized assistance with the process, call me at 847-660-8625, or fill out the “contact me” form on the bottom of this page.