Many colleges aren’t fully open to the public due to COVID-19. However, even when they are welcoming visitors, not all students can afford to explore every school worth considering. For students trying to decide which schools to apply to, this creates a challenge. Luckily, it’s one that can be solved thanks to a technology-based alternative: the virtual college tour.

Virtual college tours allow prospective students to explore a campus without having to leave home. It’s affordable, accessible, and makes social distancing a breeze to manage.

However, students who want to get everything they can from online college tours need to use the right approach. If your student is going the virtual college tour route, here are some dos and don’ts for making the most of the experience.

If you and your student want to learn about how to find scholarships, ensuring that their ideal school is affordable, sign up for our free college scholarship webinar! Take a trip over to to reserve your spot today.

Do Talk to the College to Learn About Official Tours

If your student searches online for virtual campus tours, they may get a surprising number of results. Thanks to social media, nearly anyone can create video tours of just about any location.

In some ways, this can be a boon. Your student may be able to learn information that wouldn’t be included on a traditional tour. However, there could also be issues with accuracy or bias, both of which can be concerning.

While it isn’t that your student shouldn’t potentially explore every resource available, it’s wise they make sure they can access an official online college tour if one is available. That way, they can have an experience that may mimic the in-person visit the school usually offers.

Many schools are incredibly open about their official virtual college tour options. They may be listed in the Prospective Students section of the school’s website, for one, making them readily accessible.

Often, admissions departments will share links if a student requests information, giving your student another potential path to learning about online tours. It’s also wise to check the college’s social media pages, as they can be great resources for finding video content.

virtual college tour

Don’t Go Overboard with Virtual College Tours

With online college tours, your student doesn’t have to do any traveling to check out a campus. In fact, they can access them all from anywhere with an internet connection.

Plus, many schools have late deadlines. Your student may have more options available than they initially thought, leading them to keep more schools on the table or add new ones to the list.

As a result, your student might be tempted to double or triple the number of schools they want to explore. Similarly, they may try to schedule several virtual college tours in a single day. While this might seem like a good idea, it actually isn’t.

If your student participates in too many college online tours, they may end up overwhelmed by choice. Another potential problem is, the experiences may blur together, making it hard to sort out the details about why one school might be better than another.

Ideally, your student should treat scheduling their college campus virtual tours like they would in-person ones. Spread out the appointments, limit themselves to no more than one in a day, and give themselves the time they need to reflect on the experience. That way, they can process what they’ve learned, increasing the odds that they’ll be able to make a decision.

virtual college tours

Do Learn About the Formats of the Virtual College Tours

College campus virtual tours come in a few formats. They may be video-based or interactive, image-based, for one. For another, they may be entirely pre-recorded or could feature live components.

It’s important to understand which option your student will be using for a specific school. That way, they know what to expect and can properly prepare for the event.

Pre-recorded interactive virtual campus walkthroughs and college video tours are incredibly accessible. Usually, these are offered 24/7 through the school’s website, on YouTube, or through platforms like CampusTours or YouVisit. The benefit of these approaches is your student might not have to make an appointment to check out a college. Instead, they just access the virtual tour whenever it’s convenient.

On the other end of the spectrum, some colleges do offer guided virtual tours. While these may rely on pre-recorded images or videos, your student may be able to learn about and discuss the campus with a live guide. If any of your student’s top choice schools are going this route, an appointment is necessary.

virtual tours of colleges

Do Have Questions Ready Before College Online Tours

Whether your student is using a video, interactive, or live guided tour format, they should spend some time reviewing essential questions to ask on a college visit and writing down any they would ask if they were touring in-person. Why? Because they’ll come in handy.

First, live tour guides will talk with students just like they would for a real-world tour. Second, some interactive video or image platforms allow students to ask questions. With the latter, the questions may get submitted to school officials, or the platform may connect to a knowledge base, providing your student with an immediate answer.

However, even if neither of those occurs, having questions ready is still a smart move. As the virtual tours of colleges progress, your student can listen for answers to those questions. If they hear one, they can jot it down as a note, ensuring they can remember what they learned in the future.

Then, if there’s still more they need to find out, they know which questions to research further. They can either send their inquiries to college officials, explore the website for answers, reach out to past students for insights, or use any other approach that makes sense.

Don’t Forget to Hit the Record Button

If your student is taking an online college tour with a live guide, then it’s a great idea to record the experience. By recording the tour, your student can review the video if they need a refresher. This can be beneficial if your student is scheduling campus tours over several weeks, as it may be harder to recall previous visits once they’ve participated in a few.

Nearly all computers can do some level of screen recording. Many newer smartphones and tablets can as well, as long as there’s enough memory available to hold the video.

college online tours

Do Create a Distraction-Free Zone for Virtual College Tours

Since college campus virtual tours require using a device, and students often participate from home, they may encounter more distractions than they would during an in-person tour. Smartphone or computer notifications may popup, interrupting the experience. Similarly, a family member may come in to peak over their shoulder or to ask them to handle a chore, pulling their focus away from the tour.

Ideally, your student needs to create a distraction-free zone before starting any online college tours, including pre-recorded videos or self-paced interactive walkthroughs. Silencing smartphones, turning off computer notifications, and letting family members know that they need to remain undisturbed until the tour is over are all good places to start. That way, they can focus on the experience, ensuring they don’t miss anything important.

If you and your student want to learn about how to find scholarships, ensuring that their ideal school is affordable, sign up for our free college scholarship webinar! Take a trip over to to reserve your spot today.

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