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CONVERGE | Technology

Students Use VR Technology to Explore College Campuses

Go on college campus tours without leaving your home.

For rising high school seniors, back-to-school season will bring college applications, college acceptances and college campus tours. While getting into college is the first, very exciting step, picking which one to go is the tough part. That’s where virtual reality (VR) comes into play. VR campus tours are becoming more and more available for students and their parents to explore both on- and off-campus experiences, painting a realistic picture of what life would be like at individual universities.

Benefits of VR Technology for Future College Students
The major benefit to using VR in this way is obvious in that it provides a way for potential candidates to save money and time, using the technology to get to know their potential alma mater versus having to actually go to campuses. And when narrowing down options, even if you’ve visited the campus once already, a second look is often needed, which makes a VR experience even more relevant to the cause. So, before you start figuring out the college student budget that entails a Top Ramen diet and low-priced internet that fits all streaming and social media needs, start saving right from the get-go on the actual campus visit and go on a virtual tour.

How VR is Being Used to Recruit Potential College Students
With so many factors to evaluate like cost of tuition, class size and student life, the one main aspect students look forward to is their college experience. According to virtual tour company YouVisit that provides virtual college tours using Oculus Rift VR technology, schools can win over the hearts of potential students by integrating VR technology in the following ways:

        - College Fairs. Before students even apply to schools, colleges can woo and entice them by showing them their school in VR at college fairs. Be it with individual VR headsets or a jumbo Tron that draws a crowd in with a virtual tour, students and parents are getting engaged and building interest for these universities leveraging technology.  

        - VR Campus Tours on College Websites.
You can find 360-degee views of all the different parts of a campus directly on college websites. Experience what the football stadium feels like, how big the classrooms are, figure out which dorm fits your needs or walk the campus greens as if you were actually on campus. The best part is, it’s all from the comfort of your home, on the computer you use every day.

        - Direct-Mail VR Campaigns. Whoever said snail mail was dead didn’t realize it could help speed up the decision-making process for college candidates. Universities trying to recruit their ideal students can connect with virtual reality. For instance, to help move the needle, institutions can send accepted students virtual reality glasses with an invite to pair them with their smartphones for a 3D experience of the campus.

Colleges Leveraging VR Technology
To paint the real-life picture of virtual reality, here’s how some colleges are actually using it to convince potential students to attend.

        - Princeton University. As one of the most prestigious ivy league schools in the world, Princeton does not shy away from using the most advanced technology to engage with visitors from around the globe, inviting them to explore the campus, virtually. Its virtual tour is given in four different languages and includes 23 stops at iconic landmarks on campus in 360-degree panoramas, accompanied with relevant photos and videos.

        - Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2015, 30,000 accepted students were sent Google VR cardboard headsets where they could explore campuses all around the world, in Atlanta and Savannah Georgia, Hong Kong and in Lacoste France.

        - Regis University. When it comes to picking schools, a lot of times, it’s not so much about the academics of a school but the location. Regis University, in Denver, gives virtual reality tours of the campus and its Rocky Mountain geography to prospective students.

As the role of VR continues to grow in all industries, the back-to-school season reminds us that education is one of them. And the technology goes beyond college application season and campus tours. Virtual reality technology is increasingly being incorporated in the classroom to provide hands-on, interactive and immersive learning, with ever-expanding possibilities to come.

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