From CampusBird Blog

Once upon a time, when potential college students wanted to learn more about a prospective college, they would send away for a brochure to look through with their families.

But today the initial stages of the college search and application process is completed almost entirely online, sometimes without even an in-person visit by the student.

Today, universities, colleges – and any school in fact – needs a dynamic online presence to remain competitive. Social media and interactive websites have all become essential to attract students, particularly out-of-state and international students.

Virtual tours are hands down one of the most valuable tools to present your unique campus, academics and student life.

How do we know?

Because CampusBird map visitors viewed more than 60,000 virtual tours in just the first six months of 2016. 

Just in case you missed that number it’s…


Don’t have a virtual tour? Your school is missing out on literally thousands of opportunities to provide its online visitors with an engaging and curated campus experience. 

Read on for 7 reasons your campus needs a virtual tour.

1. Bring the campus to the prospect

A college education is a big investment. When a student decides to accept a place in the freshman class, it means they will be calling the campus home for the next four years, perhaps even longer. Through self-paced exploration, a virtual tour helps prospects start to visualize themselves as a part of your campus life.

Example: University of Denver Undergraduate Campus Tour: Videos produced by students welcome visitors.

2. Highlight unique landmarks, buildings and history

Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. boasts unique architecture on its campus. Salve Regina boasts an amazing arboretum. Findlay has gorgeous equestrian and vet facilities. What makes your campus unique?

A virtual tour gives you a platform to boast a bit. Students can explore and learn about the landmarks that set your campus apart from others. When they are in the final decision making process, it may just be the details that makes your campus memorable enough to make the final cut.

Examples: Salve Regina University’s Virtual Tree Tour  / Landmark Building Tour at Mississippi State University

3. Share the college experience with family

For parents, sending their child off to college can be stressful. A virtual tour allows parents to see the dorms their children will live in, the dining hall their children will eat in, and the facilities they will learn in. Parents also look for safety. Highlighting the public safety features of your campus in a virtual tour will make it more likely that the parents will be on board.

Many schools create virtual tours just for parents. This can be particularly helpful on move-in day, to help parents orient themselves with important landmarks, information, even parking and closed roads, etc.

Example: Boise State’s Virtual Tour for Parents

4. Provide vital information

Does your school boast some impressive statistics? When facts and figures are listed on a website, they often go unread by potential students. Sports records can be included in the athletic portion of the tour, the achievements of students in the extracurricular area can be highlighted along with the clubs and activities portion of the tour. The college application process is an in-depth, and often complicated process. Use the tour to walk students through it, from start to finish. 

Example:  Academic Panoramic Tour at Monmouth College

5. Highlight campus life

While academics is the most important aspect to choosing a college, campus life isn’t too far behind. When choosing a college, students also want to see what there is to do in their free time. Highlight the social venues on your campus, like student lounges, recreation centers, coffee shops, or anywhere else students congregate and socialize. Many schools also make note of inclusive resources, such as lactation rooms for new mothers and meditation rooms.

Example: Virtual Residence Hall Tour at the University of Portland 

6. Promote sports and activities

A virtual tour is a great way to promote your sports programs and clubs and activities. Highlight sports fields and facilities, while introducing the coaches and program highlights. Show off the facilities available to your college’s clubs and associations while emphasizing the accomplishments of the students who have participated in them.

Example: Equestrian / Pre-Vet Facilities Tour at the University of Findlay

7. Profile nationality clubs and cultural events

If you are trying to attract international students, a virtual tour is a great way to show why your college is the place to be. Since overseas students are unlikely to be able to visit your college in person, a virtual tour is the perfect way for them to get as close to a visit as possible. Also, the tour gives you a chance to show off your diverse student body, and the activities and clubs that may appeal to them, as well as to highlight international alumni presence that may be available in their home country.

Clearly, virtual tours are a powerful tool to engage your constituencies, whether they be on-campus or across the globe. Cappex, a college search website, conducted a survey in which 30% of students polled said a virtual tour was a “must have” when evaluating schools. As more schools jump on board with a virtual tour, that number is sure to increase.

Examples: Augustana College’s Study Abroad Virtual Tour

Why CampusBird for Virtual Tours

The CampusBird interactive map platform is unique in that it allows your institution to create unlimited amounts of virtual tours and other interactive media, and also lets you update your tours at any time. Many of our clients have three or more different virtual tours to appeal to existing students, parents, alumni as well as to prospective students at different points in the process of evaluating a school. Different campus departments can create virtual tours to show pending construction, art collections, history, athletics, dormitories and other buildings. The potential is endless. 

Launched in January 2016, our VisitTrack module – a CampusBird add-on developed to capture new student leads during virtual tours – has proven to be very effective, generating hundreds of new student leads to date for one early adopter client. These leads can be directly attributed to the interest generated by their their CampusBird-powered virtual tour.


Looking for more? Here’s a tour of some of our favorite virtual tours built by CampusBird clients, and the video below demonstrates how easy it is to build an engaging virtual tour with CampusBird.