Virtual Tours : Culture Over Campus

As college enrollments decline, institutions of higher learning are looking for the most effective ways to get prospects to convert to admitted students and to get the most “bang for their buck.” Possibly the single most effective tool is the campus visit, an opportunity for the university to show the promise of four years in just a day or two and to give the student a solid feel for the school’s campus culture. The desired result is for the student to believe that “this is where I belong.”

In a Noel-Levitz poll, campus visits and events were clearly the winners in colleges’ lists of the Top 5 most effective strategies and tactics for college marketing and student recruitment. It’s not surprising when one considers the engagement potential of such an event. A campus visit is the most important brand communication message that your school can give – especially if all of your touchpoints, from bulletin boards to tour guides, provide a consistent brand message.

Unfortunately, that consistency is not always possible and many students can’t visit all of the colleges they’d like to for financial or other reasons. What’s a college to do?

Take advantage of virtual tours! To fully leverage a virtual campus tour  you must offer a virtual experience that has all of the touchpoints of a physical tour, with a consistent message and a real flavor of the campus culture. The reason why on-campus visits are so effective is because they provide a first person view of what it feels like to be a student. Is the food good?  Are the bathrooms clean? Are students outgoing or are they hyper focused? Are the students wearing J Crew or H&M? Teenagers and people in general are sensory driven they are attracted to things that appeal to their senses. A 360 degree view of your dining hall isn’t going to cut it!

Student surveys further enforce the importance of the virtual campus visit. According to a 2012 Noel-Levitz study, 43 percent of students said they viewed a campus tour online, and 49 percent said that it changed their opinion of a campus – mostly for the better.

Yet, according to a 2013 Noel-Levitz study, 55.2 percent of the 4-year private institutions, 65.8 percent of 4-year public institutions and only 36.6 percent of 2-year public institutions have virtual tours. While that’s up over 2012, it shows that two-thirds of 2-year institutions, nearly half of 4-year private institutions and one-third of 4-year public institutions don’t use them.



4 year private




2 yearpublicgraph

Source: Noel-Levitz

As enrollment declines, can colleges and universities really afford not to invest in this important area?

If you haven’t already, you need to bring the campus visit to your website or an app with a virtual tour that captures the feeling of being on campus and leverages the culture of the school to convert a prospective student to a matriculated one. At the very least, it may convince an undecided student to come for a physical tour.

Some things to remember:

- Make the tour highly experiential. Use real students and real activities to give the sense of being there.

- First person views are important! GoPro videos can capture the feeling of being at a campus event and bring your virtual tour to the next level.

- Create an interactive map that provides an overview and allows prospects to dig deeper.

- Show not only the outside of buildings but also the inside view: Classrooms, libraries, dorms, cafeterias – they are great places to see campus culture in action.

- Highlight things that set your school apart, such as special events, sports, well-known faculty members, and town or city landmarks.

- Include calls to action, links to more information or an application, and forms for lead generation.


Quadlyfe is a web-based app that helps schools build a connection with a prospective student long before he or she steps foot on campus. Our “CampusGlance” feature gives a school the capability to showcase its unique culture and to give students a better sense of “being there” by:

- Organizing a tour by “interest areas.” Prospects can choose what they want to view, such as residential life, campus dining, athletics, academics  or community. This takes the emphasis off locations and gives the student a deeper feel of campus atmosphere.

- Using images that don’t simply show the stationary “landmarks” of the university, but instead showcase actual students as they attend class, study, eat and spend leisure time.

- Including student and alumni testimonial videos, first person GoPro videos of students in their daily routines, audio clips of lectures, and infographics to help capture the unique culture of life on campus.

- Using consistent colors and content uniquely branded to the school

- Being mobile optimized.


Want a demo? Contact Quadlyfe at