Virtual Tours Provide Students College Search Oportunities

Landon Vuagniaux, Sports Editor

COVID-19 forced many colleges to shut down last spring. Without colleges being open for tours, many created virtual tours for high school students researching their future schools.

The virtual tours are relatively new to the college selection process, but they come with several opportunities that in-person tours don’t provide.

“The online tours definitely made the process faster than if I went in person, so I was able to take them on my own time,” senior Stella Kuchta said.

According to Kuchta, each tour took 25 to 30 minutes to complete. During the tour, she said guides explored the campus, explained certain buildings, and showed several dorm rooms. Kuchta said this was the standard format for many of her virtual tours.

Kuchta has not been able to take in-person tours and said she doesn’t know enough to compare the two, but she said she did like the ease and speed that virtual tours provided.

“I think it was a good idea overall, and it’s a great resource to have when looking at schools,” Kuchta said. “I recommend taking a virtual tour if you don’t have the opportunity or time to see the school in person.”

Kuchta was not the only senior who enjoyed the opportunities presented by online tours.

“The [online tours] are easily accessible; most schools have a link that takes you immediately to a recorded tour,” senior Lizzie Dawson said. “You don’t have to deal with planning and scheduling around it which is very convenient.”

According to Dawson, this allowed her to take a tour of the University of Arizona in about 15 minutes as opposed to the days it would have taken to plan and visit the college otherwise.

She said her virtual tours helped her decide on whether or not to apply. However, Dawson said the tours had some downsides.

“I didn’t get to see inside the buildings on one [tour] which is a bit frustrating,” Dawson said. “I thought that recently created tours were very helpful for learning about campuses specifically, not the schools overall.”

Dawson also said that the student life aspect of colleges is very difficult to see online. She said that student life is a “big part of the decision” for her and others, so being unable to see it disappointed her.

Senior Ava Zeller also said that the virtual tours were somewhat of a letdown.

“I was unable to ask questions on the online tour, so an in-person tour would be much more accommodating,” Zeller said.

Zeller also found that not being able to walk on campus impeded her ability to judge how she liked the campus.

“I visited Northwestern and Notre Dame after I did their online tours, and they were much bigger campuses than I realized,” Zeller said. “…It is hard to get a real feel for the college unless you are seeing it in person and actually walking through the campus.”

Despite these drawbacks, Zeller said that she would recommend online tours to others. She said that virtual tours give the same information as in-person tours, and they are useful right now because many on-campus college tours have not started up again.

Both Zeller and Dawson seem to share a consensus that virtual touring is very helpful during the pandemic, but they would much rather see schools in person.

“The virtual tours are helpful,” Dawson said. “But it’s very difficult to make a decision about where you’re going to spend the next four years based on what you’re seeing on a computer screen.”