21st Century College Tours
There is no better way to determine if a college is right for you than to stroll the hallowed halls yourself, asking questions, sitting in on classes, eating the food. However, busy schedules and a dream-college list 20 schools long don’t always mix. What to do if you can’t fit in the time to visit everyone of your favored schools in person? Go Internet, young men! (and women; a Horace Greeley allusion for those U.S. History buffs.)
Below are a handful of websites who offer virtual tours of hundreds of American colleges and universities. Did I mention they are free? Well, they are. But, most require that you register with them in order to view more than one or two colleges. You might get useful information from them; you might not. I suggest you set up a filter on your email account and shovel all their mail to one particular folder to look at at your leisure.
This is mostly an aggregator for different universities to air their own, homemade tours and videos. Some schools have professionally made videos that last from 3 to 10 minutes, interviewing students, staff and faculty. Some schools direct you to their websites where they may or may not have a video. This is kind of hit or miss, but you get the information directly from the school.
This site provides a “walking tour,” where you follow an interactive map and take a tour of the campus, stopping at important buildings along the way. There is also a virtual guide who reads the descriptions of the locations for you.
In addition, there are a series of 360 degree photos of points of interest on each campus. So, if you want to know what the sky looks like from the computer lab, then you can find out! Some colleges also have some selected video clips created by themselves.
This site boasts 1,200 360 degree Virtual College Tours. These aren’t really what I’d call “tours.” In fact, they are just 360 degree views of campus from particular locations. There are little descriptions of each location, but there are no video tours or interviews with students, faculty or staff.
This site creates its own videos about colleges. They try to point out interesting facts about the universities as well as interview students, faculty and staff. These videos are 6 to 13 minutes long and give you a good idea of what the school is like.
While these college tours are good for a quick impression of school, nothing beats a live college visit. If you can make the time to visit at least your top choices, you should. Being able to picture yourself fitting in to the college of your dreams is the best motivation you can ask for.