U.S. News Article Offers 3 Tips on Deciding if Virtual Campus Tours Are Worth It for Prospective Students

As we get into back to school time it’s also a time when many rising high school seniors (and juniors) are beginning to make that important decision on where they will attend college. Millions of students around the nation are beginning to make that college decision right now.

A recent U.S. News article offers up some tips for prospective students and their parents in relation to virtual tours as part of this college decision making process. As education marketers it’s important to understand and follow the guidance that is being offered to our target audience. Understanding what “experts” are telling our audience can help us be better marketers.

The article lays out three tips for prospective students who use virtual tours while also explaining a wider picture around each. It points out what you should take away and how this might be a little different from what the school wants you to take away.

The three tips the article gives are:

  1. Virtual tours provide one point of view – the view that the marketers (us) at the school want you to see
  2. Virtual tours enable further research – a good starting point for further research on a specific school and its attractions
  3. Virtual tours do not introduce you to the student body – you are only seeing the perspective that the school wants you to see

You can probably tell by the tone of each item that they aren’t positioning the virtual tour in a perfect rosy perspective. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are saying “buyer beware,” but they do want visitors to realize that this is only part of the story and the part that the institution wants you to know about.

Check out the article for yourself and see what you think – Decide if Virtual Campus Tours Are Worth It – or Worthless

Our Takeaway

We believe the article fully supports an important point that we’ve made many times on the topic of virtual tours. The virtual tour is an extremely valuable recruitment tool, but it isn’t going to be the ultimately decision maker for a prospect. The physical tour is still the most important action a prospect can take before making that ultimate decision, but the virtual tour can help narrow down the number of physical tours a prospect takes because physical tours can be very expensive and time consuming.

From a recruitment standpoint you want prospects to make the decision to take that physical tour, and as the article supports, the virtual tour is capable of being one of the most influential marketing tools to get prospective students to visit your campus.

You could make the argument that the article is stating institutions and tour creators aren’t being very transparent with their content and message, but I believe that is the wrong takeaway. It’s also important to remember that you can’t include everything in your tour. You want to keep it straightforward, digestible and usable, and because of this it will never include everything. Because of this our main takeaway was the second tip, the tour should encourage prospects to do additional research.

Hopefully the virtual tour can continue to be a great starting or kickoff point for prospects who are interested in your institution. I would say as much as anything that having a well put together virtual tour with compelling and valuable content can make you standout above your competition. We have a feeling the writer of this article would probably agree with that point too.

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