Every campus needs an interactive campus map. Audiences ranging from prospective students to long-graduated alums and even community members have to know how to navigate your university’s many buildings and green spaces.

But it’s folly to think that a printed campus map is still enough. Campus maps are about wayfinding, but modern wayfinding no longer happens with physical maps. Digital environments are beginning to dominate, which is where an interactive campus map enters the equation.

In fact, your interactive college map comes with several potential advantages that are impossible to ignore. Whether you want to streamline campus traffic, engage prospective students, or keep your alums happy, these benefits can help you drive central university goals upon implementing the tool.

Let’s dive into the top eight benefits of interactive campus maps and how you can leverage those benefits for your institution.

1. Drive Awareness Among Prospective Students

Use it the right way, and your interactive campus map can become a powerful admissions tool. Recruitment opportunities within the map include the following:

  • Make it easy for prospective students and their families to find the campus. Highlight the specific parking and building they need to get to for visits and open houses.
  • Create self-guided tours that make campus visitors less reliant on scheduled admissions tours. This increases the chance they’ll visit and eventually apply.
  • Showcase your campus life, like the events happening on campus. Also, feature spots like your student center that prospects tend to gravitate to.
  • Display your transportation network, like convenient parking lots for students or real-time shuttle bus routes and schedules to get students from building to building.

These benefits are tangible. As one of our clients at Bishop’s University puts it, “Our Google Analytics show that this is our most lucrative tool for student recruitment.” Given enrollment challenges across the nation, a well-built virtual campus map can become a core differentiator among your competitors.

2. Engage Students Throughout Their Lifecycle

Featuring your interactive campus map for admissions is a natural fit. But that’s far from your only potential opportunity to engage your core audience. Chris Meyes, Director of Enrollment marketing at James Madison University, puts it best:

“Being able to utilize [Concept3D’s solutions] for orientation, for alumni, for athletics, for accessibility and disability services [garners] a lot of interest across campus.”

In other words, this is a tool that can enhance every part of the student’s lifecycle. Prospects learn about your campus, while incoming students can familiarize themselves with it. Current students will enjoy the convenience of its wayfinding capabilities, while alums can use it to come back to campus and reminisce about their own college life.

Of course, building your campus map for multiple audiences can be challenging. You never want the pendulum to swing from informative and straightforward to convoluted and confusing. Finding a solution with separate map layers for different audiences can help to minimize that issue.

3. Increase Graduation Rates By Helping Students Accomplish Core Goals

Speaking of the student lifecycle, let’s dig a little deeper into the relationship your current students can build with your interactive college map.

Just like with enrollment and recruitment, keeping students at your institution once they enroll has become a significant challenge. Graduation rates have dropped significantly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your campus map isn’t the only tool to solve this complex issue, but it can help.

For example, your campus map can help students become more engaged as early as move-in day, which increases their likelihood of graduating—and graduating in time. It can also help current students find their way to new classes or student events more easily. That’s why we’ve heard from partners like Kathy Bonilla, Public Information Officer at Fresno City College:

“The number of graduates we’ve had have increased each year. We’re helping our students complete their educational goals and earn a degree.”

4. Create an Engaging Move-In Day and Welcome Week Experience

Driving student engagement leads naturally to move-in day, which has become a crucial predictor of college success for nearly all student demographics. Getting them to engage during their first week on campus is half the battle of keeping them engaged throughout their college career.

And again, your interactive campus map can help. Incoming students (and their parents) can get an easy overview of the campus, along with directions that let them know exactly where to go. Custom map layers like a move-in day category show their journey throughout the day, from drop-off zones to where to pick up their keys.

And that’s before we even get into the extra resources, like showcasing popular food spots for that last meal before the parent leaves their student on campus for their big college adventure.

For move-in day and Welcome Week alike, the campus map becomes the core communication tool for all physical spots. Students will always know where to go, increasing their chances of showing up and benefiting from the experience in the process.

5. Streamline Facilities Communications About Your Physical Campus

Senior college student using an interactive campus map to get real-time updates

Don’t underestimate the potential power of interactive campus maps for facilities and other, more functional offices on campus. They help with planning, providing an always-on and available footprint of campus. They also help with core information like the location of defibrillators, evacuation forms, and more.

But, just as importantly, they also allow your facilities department to communicate in real time about important changes and updates to the physical campus. For example, if a street or walkway has to shut down for repairs or maintenance, you can mark it on the map. The same applies to major construction projects you need your audiences to know about.

These communications are not always well-received. But your campus map can help to streamline them. It puts the repairs in a visual format while also allowing the easy and intuitive marking of detours and other considerations for anyone on campus.

6. Enhance Accessibility Communications for Your Institution

Accessibility continues to be a major topic in higher education, both from a legal and ethical standpoint. In particular, public universities with an access mission have a tangible stake in extending that access to all potential and current students, including those with disabilities.

Once again, your interactive college map can help. An accessibility category or map layer allows you to mark nuances like:

  • Building entrances with accessibility features
  • Accessible restrooms
  • Accessible walkways
  • And more

The map product itself, of course, also matters. From colors to navigation, you have to make sure that your core wayfinding tool can be easily and intuitively used by all of your audiences. An accessible digital map that also enhances broader accessibility communications is key.

7. Improve the Event Experience for Outside Campus Visitors

Almost every college or university, at least on occasion, hosts major events that will bring in visitors who are not familiar with your campus layout, parking, or other nuances of your physical campus. Examples include:

  • Homecoming
  • Graduation
  • Major sporting events
  • Conferences

Naturally, visitors who arrive specifically to attend these events will need more help navigating around campus. They might need basic directions to campus, an understanding of parking availability, and even wayfinding support within major buildings like your football stadium or conference center.

In these communications, your interactive map can become a centerpiece. Especially before the event, you can use it to remove uncertainties your audience might have, streamlining their experience and reducing confusion to ensure the event’s success.

8. Establish Your Campus Within the Community Beyond Its Borders

Finally, interactive campus maps can feature a core topic that most audiences, from prospective students to alums, care deeply about: the broader community in which your institution finds itself.

It might be a quintessential college town. It might be an urban environment or something else entirely. You might even have satellite campus locations nearby. Either way, as soon as the discussion turns beyond your traditional campus borders, avoiding confusion and providing clarity—while maybe even promoting some off-campus opportunities—becomes essential.

Here, the possibilities of your digital map can range widely:

  • Showcase local restaurants, coffee shops, and other hangout spots.
  • Highlight local attractions, like museums and parks, that campus visitors might want to know about.
  • Outline bus routes and other public transit that students living off campus might need to be aware of.
  • Provide areas relevant to students, like off-campus buildings where students might have classes.
  • And more

As an added benefit, extending your digital map beyond campus can also improve town-gown relations. Local community members can now use your product to navigate, building goodwill that ultimately improves life for every audience involved.

Implement an Interactive Campus Map Designed to Accomplish Core University Goals

With the right campus map, all eight of these benefits are easily achievable. You can engage audiences that range from incoming students to your local community while also helping departments, from admissions to facilities, better streamline their work.

But it does take the right interactive campus map tool. That’s where Concept3D comes in.

Our interactive college map solution is specifically designed for our university partners to accomplish these and many other goals. Extensive experience in the higher ed space means we know both the environment and the audiences. This is coupled with functional expertise that has led to one of the most intuitive, feature-rich options in the business.

Ready to build an interactive campus map your audiences want to use? Contact us to start the conversation today.