Cartoon image of a man with an open book sitting in front of a city landscape with the 360 degree symbol representing the virtual tour of the city.
Guide

Touring colleges with virtual reality

Tips for doing virtual or remote college tours with virtual reality using the free YouVisit platform.

As technology continues to evolve, future college students now have an additional way to search for higher education by touring colleges with virtual reality. Virtual college tours can give students the opportunity to get to know their future campus, from the comfort of their school or home. This is especially beneficial for students with chronic illness or disability that may not have the time or energy for a traditional college tour. Today, I will be sharing my tips for touring colleges with virtual reality using the popular YouVisit platform.

What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality is known by many names, including 360 video, immersive video, spherical video, and augmented reality. It can also be abbreviated as VR or AR. Virtual reality allows for a user to immerse themselves in a virtual environment using technology. Videos are shot with multidirectional cameras from every angle, and put together using a technique called video stitching. Virtual reality allows for a user to be completely immersed in an environment, while augmented reality allows for a blending of virtual reality and the real world.

While many virtual reality simulations require special equipment, touring a college with virtual reality requires no special equipment. Users only need an internet-connected computer, tablet, or phone.

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What is YouVisit?

YouVisit is a platform that allows colleges to create their own tours using virtual reality technology. Over 600 colleges from all across the country have tours on YouVisit. Their virtual college tours integrate 360 degree video, photos, audio, and video so that potential students can explore the campus freely using their technology. Students also have the option to add themselves to the college mailing list so they can get more information.

YouVisit virtual college tours can be accessed on their website, with the option to use a VR headset. Tours can be accessed on any computer, tablet, or phone. No account is required to view tours. I tested YouVisit with my Android phone, iPad, and desktop computer with successful results.

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Why to use virtual reality to tour colleges

There are many benefits to going on a college tour with virtual reality, besides saving money from traveling. Some of these benefits include:

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Examples of locations on the tour

While each college is different, all of the virtual college tours I explored included the following locations:

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Enabling accessibility view

Every tour on YouVisit has an accessibility version available that is designed for students with vision loss, inclusive of low vision/blind/nonvisual access. Features supported with accessibility view include:

TO ACTIVATE ACCESSIBILITY VIEW:

  1. Open a college tour
  2. Fill out student information, or click the “x” button to skip
  3. Once on the home screen, click the shaded eye icon to open accessibility view. The location of the accessibility button varies depending on the college- I usually found it either on the bottom or the center of the screen

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Finding additional college tours on social media

When I was a freshman, my college had several video tours posted across social media. These video tours included audio description and featured the same locations as the virtual reality tours, but with more detailed information. Some examples include specific dorm buildings, floors of the library, and individual department tours.

Some colleges have an unofficial Reddit account that also includes images of dorms and other campus buildings – I posted photos of my freshman dorm for prospective students several years ago. This can be another helpful source for checking out housing, as these images are less “filtered” compared to official university accounts.

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Follow up with additional questions

After finishing the virtual tour, it’s highly likely that students will have additional questions about the college and individual offices. Some examples of common questions I’ve seen come up include:

I’ve linked posts that discuss these topics and other common questions below.

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More tips for touring colleges with virtual reality

By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com

Updated March 2024; original post published January 2019.

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