The Evolution of Virtual Campus Tours

We’ve decided to blend traditional and emerging channels, and we have our team set up to maximize the use of each. Now what? Which emerging channels deserve our attention and how should we be using them?

Much has been made about the “The Rise of Social Video,” including its rising viewing and engagement numbers, as well as new technology that makes it easier to capture and stream live video, including Periscope and Meerkat. Some have taken it a step further and predicted a larger role for virtual reality in marketing.

Colleges and universities have been early adopters of all this technology as they seek to bring the campus experience to prospective students – even if they can’t visit physically. And students seem receptive. Last year, 56 percent of high school juniors said they were interested in virtual campus tours.

Back in 2012, The Huffington Post highlighted technology’s potential in regards to prospectives, which at that point centered around a company called 3D Virtual Campus Tours having students create avatars to walk around a video-game-like version of their campus while getting information and recommendations from an admissions advisor on a headset.

Fast-forward to 2014, and Fortune Magazine was profiling a company called YouVisit, which has created more than 1,000 virtual college tours designed to run on the VR headset Oculus Rift. Besides being a more immersive, realistic experience, there’s also the undeniable cool factor; students may line up at certain admissions booths at a college fair just to say they experienced the headset. Still, VR doesn’t seem to have hit the mainstream quite yet.

Virtual Tours Compared(1)

What has hit the mainstream in 2016 are live streaming video apps like Periscope, which has 10 million users, some of whom are college admissions departments.

The great blog had a post this past summer about two schools using Periscope to do mini, teaser tours to show off different parts of their campuses. The production values are lower than most colleges are usually comfortable with, but that’s part of the appeal to students, as it lends an air of authenticity millennials appreciate in marketing. Plus, the commenting feature allows instant questions and feedback.

Will live streaming campus tours become the norm? Will they stimulate or supplant the traditional on-campus experience? Take a look at my comparison graphic, and let me know your thoughts.


2 thoughts on “The Evolution of Virtual Campus Tours

  1. Personally I don’t think nothing beats the experience of being on an actual college campus and truly getting a feel of what it would be like to be there. I feel that virtual tours will only increase the want of being at a campus and getting to know your seniors opinions first hand on campus life. I remember when we were allowed to intermingle with upperclassmen and even visit their dorms during a normal setting than a staged setting to lure you in. I feel face to face experience is more realistic. Not everything should be digitalized as it takes away the fact and brings more fiction.


  2. What an interesting concept! I think this could be beneficial for students as they could explore many more colleges and universities than through just traditional campus visits. Oftentimes the time and expense of college visits limits the amount of schools a student will consider. I agree that there are some things that VR can’t replace but think it could serve as a stepping stone in the process. Students could visit the campus virtually and then decide whether the time and cost of a physical visit is worth it for them. These virtual visits help to increase engagement while reducing costs, which creates a positive return on investment (


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