In 2020 many colleges started to seriously develop virtual campus tours to try to fill in the gaps left by restrictions on face to face meetings. While some colleges had previously had brief video tours, they did not do a good job at helping students really get a good feel for the campus. With almost all perspective students touring virtually, though, colleges felt the need to improve their offerings. Students who don’t wish to travel far to campus, or who don’t feel it is safe to meet in person, can now get close to the full tour experience through their computer screens. These virtual experiences can be made almost as beneficial as in-person tours with a few simple tips.
- Sign up for official tour and make sure you have the necessary software
Don’t just hop on the college website one day and watch a five minute video tour shot with a drone over the campus! Get in touch with the admissions office and ask about a guided tour where you can video chat with a guide as you work your way through a comprehensive tour. A complete campus tour should take at least an hour for even the smallest campuses. Having a live guide to talk to and ask questions of is the best way to mimic an on campus tour. In order to make the tour go smoothly, make sure you have the program you need in advance! Maybe you’ll be meeting with the guide through Zoom, but maybe it’s on some other platform you have never used before. Get it up and running in the days before your appointment to avoid missing your tour.
- Do research before the tour
Make sure you know something about the college you’re touring. Do they offer the programs you want? Are they in an area you would enjoy living? Are you reasonably close to their admissions criteria? Don’t waste your time doing 100 tours of colleges that won’t be a good fit. Just because you can tour from your couch doesn’t mean you should!
- Have questions ready
You’ll get the most out of a college tour that is tailored to you, but unfortunately, the tour guide won’t really know you. You have to help them tailor the information that they present. Do this by asking questions. Have some questions ready prior to your scheduled start time and ask others that you think of as the tour progresses.
- Take notes!
After a handful of tours all colleges kind of look the same, especially on a screen. Which one was the one with the great professor I talked to? Which one had that horrible library with no tables? Write down your thoughts during the tour. Since you’ll be sitting in your home instead of out walking around it should be easy to keep organized notes!
- Follow up with the admissions counselor afterword
Make sure to send a thank you email with any follow up questions after the tour. This is especially important if there were many people on your tour. You want your counselor to remember you!
- Visit in person after admission
Once you’re admitted, make sure you do a real visit prior to committing. Some things can only be experienced in person and you shouldn’t commit to going to a school for four years without having ever set foot on campus!