Parents, once you and your college-bound student have agreed upon a starting list of colleges, it will be time plan a virtual college road trip without packing the potato chips. Before you spend the time and money of traveling, taking virtual tours are a great way to see the campus together and prepare for a fun experience.
Think about it another way. When you know what you are looking for in a new house in a new city several hours away, you won’t just drive down random streets looking for houses to buy. You’ll spend time reviewing the listings online to see floorplans, backyards, neighborhoods, and comments about the local area. This is a virtual tour in real estate. Let’s do the same for college.
A virtual campus tour allows prospective students to visit many colleges from home. Some may be photos, 360 panoramic views, short videos, or virtually-guided tours. This is one of the best ways for your student to “picture themselves” on campus. In some virtual tours, you’ll be able to interact with current students, alumni, or professors.
YouVisit and CampusTours offer quality, self-guided, 360 degree panoramic views of various spots on campus with a short description. These sites allow you to see the campus. Colleges without a virtual tour on the CampusTours site are redirected to a map on the college website.
eCampusTours, CollegeClickTV, and YOUniversityTV include interviews from students, alumni, and faculty to give you a first-hand account of their college experience. These sites allow you to hear the campus. eCampusTours has a library of 1300 colleges along with a general info page with information about the college, admissions, student body, programs, other, and cost. Just know that some videos may not play. CollegeClickTV focuses on short 1-2 minute videos of students, professors, or local merchants sharing their story. YOUniversityTV allows users to favorite or share the college tour. One or two female hosts will narrate your tour and conduct interviews. Admissions officers shared who they were looking for as a potential candidate. While many colleges produce virtual tours, some may also offer tours of the dining halls and dorm rooms like the University of Oklahoma.
If you don’t have time to look at multiple sites, I would recommend CampusTours as my go-to site for virtual campus tours and YOUniversityTV for personal insights. Just be aware that these “free” sites may have featured colleges scrolling on top along with paid ads on the side. YOUniversityTV has you watch a commercial for another college before watching your selected college.
Once you’ve completed your virtual college road trip of your preferred colleges, you can plan your actual road trip and ask well-informed, thought-out questions. Success!
Now you can grab those potato chips!
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.