From CampusBird Blog

College is a time when students are becoming more independent and want to feel empowered to make their own decisions. Because they’re living on their own for the first time, students need some reliable tools to help them make smart decisions.

With interactive maps becoming more sophisticated over the last few years, students can now find the information they need to feel empowered. Even better is many of these maps now add 

more customized features to let students have some choice in what they want to find or learn.

Here’s a look at how an online college experience empowers students to help them make the right choice in the university they choose.

Interactive Maps Give Students Choice

Take a look at the recent interactive map from Arizona State University to give you an idea of how students can customize to show what they need to find.

For instance, if a new student wants to find every building on campus, they can select this in the “Locations” section to the left of the page. It even gives a “Tour” option so users explore those buildings in more detail.

While users can find all the general things, many interactive maps like the one from ASU take things further. Their map displays things a student might miss if touring in person. Things like Points of Pride, sustainability, ADA accessibility, and Game Day Events show how comprehensive these maps are now.

In the case of game days, interactive maps provide real-time views so current students know what’s going on to avoid traffic.

Virtual Tours Help Prospective Low-Income Students

Even before students enter college, it’s important for them to feel in-charge of their educational experience.

Touring a school can have a huge influence on a student’s decision to attend a school. However, not everyone can afford to travel across the country to see every university they are considering. A report this last summer showed that students who toured college campuses typically spent $3,000 for food and lodging.

Virtual tours and interactive maps can reduce the economic barrier that prevents many students from touring the college of their dreams and make them feel more empowered in the decision-making process. With interactive maps, prospective students don’t have to spend a cent to take an virtual tour and get insight into what it’s like to walk around a campus from a first-person perspective. In short, a combination of interactive maps, virtual tours and student-generated content can give prospective students a great feel for what it would be like as a student at your school.

Read more in EdSurge, “Who Says You Need a College Visit to ‘See’ Campus?

Students Can Take Part in Creating Virtual Tours

Something new in the interactive map world is college students getting involved in creating videos to create virtual tours. Take a look Maryville College’s sustainability tour done by a student. While you get a video with a student describing the college’s sustainability initiatives, it’s just a supplement to an interactive map to the right of the page.

The above helps new students understand aspects to colleges that mirror the student’s own personal philosophies. University sustainability measures might otherwise go unnoticed during an in-person tour without having a guide like you’d find online.

Students Can Give Feedback on Maps and Tours

The real power to student empowerment is having the freedom to provide feedback on interactive maps so colleges can improve for future students. In fact, a study conducted by Nielsen found that 31% of consumers share their experiences with a company on social media to feel empowered. Doing so helps universities continually improve their maps so new students feel more confident and excitedabout visiting the campus.