Virtual tours of college are becoming a thing. As colleges across America look for better and more efficient ways to reach out to prospective students to encourage them to apply to and to try to persuade them to attend in the event the students are offered admission, it was only a matter of time until the college tour evolved for the digital age. Yale University has been a part of this trend in college admissions, offering online virtual tours as well as a new smartphone tour app. Because who doesn’t need a Yale tour app in between their Uber and Seamless apps, right?
Yale Virtual Campus Tours
As Anastasia Posnova writes in a piece entitled “Yale creates new ways to tour campus” for “The Yale Daily News,” “Originally created in 2011, the virtual tours allow people to see Yale’s campus, halls, dorm rooms and facilities online while learning about these campus fixtures from friendly, virtual tour guides. There are five tours available, showcasing the campus in general, residential colleges, athletic facilities, engineering offerings and science facilities and research opportunities. Aside from the athletic one, all tours were updated this summer with new photographs, new locations and little tweaks to the tour guides’ scripts. The campus tour app that rolled out this summer, called ‘Yale Admissions Campus Tour,’ allows visitors on campus to learn more about Yale even if they cannot join an official tour. The smartphone tracks where visitors are on campus and provides information about different locations, allowing visitors to explore Yale at their own pace. It features all the stops of the University-run on-campus tour and even includes the new residential colleges, which have not yet been added to the on-campus tour.”
A Word on Virtual Campus Tours
While we’re all about colleges making their campuses and undergraduate experiences more accessible to prospective students from all over the world, make no mistake that virtual campus tours do not replace actual campus tours. There is no replacement for looking around at students, to see if they’re smiling and happy. There is no replacement for walking into dining halls to grab a sandwich and ask students questions about what they like and don’t like about their schools. There is no replacement for wandering off the tour to explore, to gain an understanding of what it would be like to attend a given institution.
And from an admissions standpoint, going on a virtual campus tour doesn’t convey interest to a school, whereas visiting a college and attending the tour and info session certainly does convey interest. Highly selective colleges want to be loved. They endeavor to admit students they think will matriculate should they be offered admission. One of the ways in which college admissions officers at these institutions gauge if a student will attend or not is by taking note of whether the student made these important points of contact. While virtual campus tours may be hip, they simply aren’t a replacement for the real thing.