How Virtual Campus Tours Helped 75% of Reporting Schools Increase Summer Visitors

The new class of university freshmen will begin moving into dorms and onto campuses in the coming weeks marking an annual tradition of teenagers beginning their lives as independent young adults. But before parents and students made the final decision about what college to attend, they spent the summer visiting schools. And before they began visiting schools, many of them took virtual campus tours of these schools.

A recent informal survey by The New York Times found that 75 percent of colleges surveyed experienced an increase in summer visits in 2011 even during these tough economic times. This finding indicates that making personal visits to schools continues to top the list of key factors students and parents use in deciding what college to attend. However, the survey also found that virtual campus tours have started to play a more important function for students before they visit a campus and for students who can’t afford to travel to several schools. As you begin to plan for next summer’s visitors, keep in mind that virtual campus tours drive personal visits to your school, help families control visitation costs, and puts you in line with the practices of top universities.

Driving the Campus Visit
Even while students and parents continue to visit schools in person, the value of interactive campus maps is rising. A recent report examining the online behavior of prospective students found that 54 percent of students found value in virtual campus tours. More and more, students use the maps as a way to look at schools before making personal visits and as a way to narrow down their college choices. A good interactive campus map will actually drive students to come visit your school in person by grabbing their attention and encouraging a more up close and personal experience.

Controlling Costs
Parents and students continue to make campus visits despite the rising costs of fuel, air fare and other travel expenses, but they are also looking to control costs where they can. Colleges who participated in The New York Times survey said that while campus visits were up, many families reported they were trimming costs where they could by staying with friends or family, taking day trips or combining campus visits with vacation. USA Today also advises students to take virtual campus tours to control campus visitation costs, which can easily top $3,000.

Join the Crowd
Top universities like Harvard, Cornell and the University of Chicago have added virtual tours to their websites as a way to reach out to students who otherwise couldn’t visit their schools. When these universities begin adopting new technology, you can bet the virtual campus tour is here to stay. Plus, as students use these top schools as a barometer for other institutions, they will begin to look for and demand more interactive maps.

The campus visit remains the mainstay of the decision making process. Virtual campus tours complement and enhance personal visits. Before next summer’s tour season begins, increase your visitations by adding an interactive map.

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