3 Things You Can Learn from Virtual College Campus Tours
From videos, photos, 3-D interactive maps and pop-up virtual tour guides many college websites now have virtual tours of their campuses online. These virtual tools allow you to “visit” a college campus without leaving home. But what can these virtual tours really tell you? Here’s three questions a virtual college tour can answer to help you choose a university, or at least narrow down your list.
1. How big is the campus?
A virtual tour—especially one with a 3-D or other type of map—can help you get an idea how spread out (or how close) buildings on campus are. It also will show you any campus green space where you might be able to relax or study outside in nice weather. See the Sweet Briar College (VA) 3-D campus map as an example.
2. What are the dorms like?
Some virtual tours may include photos or videos inside student residence halls. Look closely at the images to see what fits in a dorm room, how clean dorm hallways are and more. If a website offers a walking tour—which takes you on a Google Street View-like tour through campus—you may also get a glimpse of the surroundings outside the dorm. For example, during the Santa Clara University’s (CA) virtual walking tour, you can see a sand volleyball court outside one of the residence halls.
3. What are the classrooms and labs like?
Chances are a college’s virtual tour will include photos, videos and/or descriptions of student spaces, including classrooms, inside campus buildings. Some may even show photos of classes in session. Looking at these images may show what it would be like to sit in class. Are there lots of photos of large lecture halls? How many desks or lab stations are in the classrooms pictured? This can give you an idea about how large (or small) class sizes may be at the school.
If you can’t find a virtual tour on the college’s website, try looking on YouTube for college tour videos. And remember: even though virtual campus tours are awesome, they don’t tell you everything about a college. For example, they don’t allow you to meet with a professor, talk to students about their experience or taste the dining hall food.
Once you view a virtual tour and narrow down your college choices, it’s still a good idea to visit a few campuses in person so you can truly get a feel for how you would fit in. Some colleges like Palm Beach Atlantic University (FL) may even cover all or part of the cost of your college visit trip.