Oh yeah. It’s getting to be that time of year again. BACK TO SCHOOL!

One of the best ways to help students, parents, visitors and even new staff members find their way around is to get your interactive campus map back-to-school ready.

Read why Interactive Campus Maps are a Perfect Tool for University Communications.

Let’s get your campus map back to school ready…

You may not have considered it, but your campus map can play a crucial part in making the hustle, bustle and madness of back to school smooth like butter. And – if you’re starting a month or so out (like right now!) – that gives you plenty of time to get all the necessary wheels in motion.

So the team at Concept3D put together 5 tips to get your interactive campus map back-to-school ready. Onward again…

Add a Move-In Layer for New Students

Especially for freshmen, move-in day will be both exciting and nerve-wracking as they do their best to navigate the new campus surroundings. Fortunately, an interactive map can help make it a bit easier with a customized move-in layer.

But woah, slow down. What’s a layer? Great question.

Concept3D’s functionality makes it easy to create a new category (activated by simply checking a box in the map legend) which pulls up a set of customized information on the map (that’s the layer). So a move-in layer could highlight dorms, the student center, and relevant locations such as campus safety for getting a school ID. And don’t forget dining opportunities. Because food, right? We’ll get into parking below…

Wake Forest was one of the first CampusBird clients to develop a move-in layer, and it’s smart because move-in day is by far the biggest day of traffic to our clients’ maps.

Way to go Wake Forest!

The more information you include, the easier you will make the transition for your new and returning students. Shocking, right?

Highlight Your Parking Lots

Have you ever talked to a campus safety official during move-in day? Probably not, because they are too busy directing hundreds if not thousands of new students to the right lots. Traffic and parking can quickly turn into a nightmare, so why not include a layer specifically for your relevant parking lots and their traffic patterns? Your campus safety office will thank you – and so will the countless students and parents who can now spend less time driving around campus in search of the right spots, and more time actually moving in. Better yet, just build this into the move-in layer!

Add Wayfinding Directions to/from Important Locations

You can use your campus map to highlight the most important routes your new students will take on their way to the various locations they need to go on and after move-in day. Directions and wayfinding routes to orientation events, dining options, and other important spots can all help your students more easily get to where they need to go, and can even improve attendance at these events. This feature will be especially beneficial for your students if your campus map is mobile-friendly.

Add a “Just for Parents” Layer or Virtual Tour

Parents will want to spend some time with their kids, particularly if they are freshmen. But inevitably, there will come a time when the students have to attend an event – or they just want to go do their own thing – and their parents have some time to spare. Why not use that time productively and explore the campus at which their children will spend their next four years?

Adding a layer or virtual tour with highlights particularly important to parents, such as academic resources, campus history, art, trees, and more is a fun way to get parents exploring and excited about the campus.

This may also pay off well before move in day, as parents remain the single biggest influencers for enrollment decisions, adding a virtual tour can significantly benefit your marketing and admissions efforts.

Create a “Welcome to Campus” Virtual Tour (Perhaps with gamification…)

Of course, your new students may have some time to spare as well, and they won’t be interested in the exact same information as their parents. A more general “welcome to campus tour” can remedy that situation. Showcase your campus and its most important buildings, alongside relevant information about your athletic teams, the history of the university, and more. Get them to play a few holes of the campus disc golf course, touch the famous campus statue, stand under the old Oak tree…you get it!

You may also want to gamify the virtual tour as well – make it a scavenger hunt! The recent use of CampusBird to profile Pokémon Go stops and gyms demonstrates how this could easily be done in a fun, interactive (and mobile-friendly) way.

It’s never too early to start planning for back to school, and the tips above barely scratch the surface of the potential for an interactive map to help your students, parents, visitors and staff enjoy their experience on your campus.