Virtual Campus Tours That Get Results


We often say, “there’s no substitute for a campus visit.” And it’s true. A virtual tour is not a substitute, but it is the next best thing. Recent research shows that 54% of seniors and 41% of juniors have looked at a virtual tour. Of those who did, 59% of seniors and 63% of juniors said it enhanced the likelihood of enrolling at the institution.

Most importantly, a virtual tour is a great way to attract prospects to visit in person. Your virtual tour should leave students and parents saying, “I can’t wait to see this for real!”

So what’s makes a great virtual tour?

  • Quality A shaky video taken from a student’s iPhone cries “amateur.” Videos of people’s backsides are not pretty. Dominant background music is risky. Poor narration is embarrassing.

    If you’re going to do a virtual tour, commit to high quality video with a professional videographer. Choose scenes that are most visually appealing and avoid distractions in the setting. Savannah College of Art and Design incorporates high-quality photographs to show off striking views.

    Choose your narrator carefully—someone who is inviting, articulate, and natural in front of an audience. If using background music, keep the volume low and go with something generic (lest anyone think your style is goofy or outdated).

  • Inside Scoop Students want to see what daily life is like at your school. Use student and/or staff narrators who can give an inside perspective. (If staff, be sure to feature those who connect well with students.) Use multiple students for varied perspectives and personality, and go to the places students care about most. Show positive images of students interacting and enjoying college life.

    This University of Maryland video incorporates spontaneous student activity in a wide variety of settings in way that feels unscripted. The narration of this tour of Carson-Newman University gives to-the-point highlights that will be most interesting to students and parents.

  • Flexibility If you make viewers wait through lengthy irrelevant parts of the tour, they’re likely to exit. So give them navigation options. A 360° format gives the user some control of the experience. You can also allow them to choose where to go. Powered by You Visit, these tours of Vanderbilt University and Princeton University give options to skip ahead. The menu on the left also allows viewers to go in whatever order they’d like.

  • Creativity Think outside the box and try something you haven’t seen before. This animated virtual reality sleigh ride through Bates College, for example, is unexpected fun. Involve a team of creative arts students and see what they come up with—you may be surprised by ideas you would have never imagined.

Meet students in their virtual world, and you’ll discover you’ve opened the door to real-life connections.

Ruffalo Noel Levitz & OmniUpdate. (2018). 2018 E-expectations report. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Available at