Pexels user Mali Maeder

Pexels user Mali Maeder

Technology has come a long, long way in the last twenty years or so, and one amazing bit of technical wizardy has emerged in that time—the internet. With the world wide web, people are more connected around the globe than ever before. Information is right at your fingertips, a few keystrokes and clicks away.

But anyone can tell you that the internet is as much a blessing as it is a curse. There are, of course, pros and cons to such a powerful technology and the same can be said of many of its services or features.

Case and point: the virtual campus tour. Let’s go through the upsides and downsides of this particular feature.

Pro: Accessibility

One wondrous aspect of the internet is the sheer amount of information that is available to anyone with a computer connection. If you’re interested in learning more about a college that is located on the other side of the country, but you don’t have the time, means, or funds to travel there for a more traditional visit, a virtual tour is a good alternative.

Colleges post photos, videos, and even digital campus walkthroughs (think Google Maps’ street view feature), that can give prospective students and their parents an idea of what the campus is like. Seeing a campus is the first step to imagining yourself living (and studying) there.

Con: Impersonal

You can look at pictures all you want, but it won’t give you the feeling of actually being there. If you visit a campus in person, not only will you get a feel for the atmosphere, you’ll also get to interact with students, faculty, the tour guide, admissions officers, and even professors. If you’re physically on campus you can get a more personalized look into how the college works.

You can sit in on a class, talk to the head of the department you’re interested in majoring in, speak to current students about their likes and dislikes of the school, walk around campus to discover class buildings and local shops, and much more. It can sometimes be hard to glean that sort of valuable info off a computer screen.

Pro: Money Saver

Plane tickets aren’t cheap, and neither is gasoline. If money is a little bit tight, it might make more sense to just stay at home and fire up the family desktop instead of booking a flight to the campus itself. You won’t have to pay for other things either, like meals-out, taxi or uber fares, hotel rooms, or program fees. Your wallet might thank you for taking it easier this time.

Con: Technical Difficulties

The internet is only as good as its connectivity. Spotty wi-fi can be the bane of anyone’s existence, and it can also make college searches challenging. If the connection is slow or cuts out a lot, you might find yourself pulling out your hair rather than learning what you need to know about your colleges.

Pro: Time Saver

Why take a few days to go visit a campus when you could do it in a matter of minutes? If your schedule is brimming with activities, tests, competitions, events, family gatherings, or whatever else you’ve marked down on your calendar, it might be hard to squeeze in a campus visit. Doing a virtual tour cuts down on time consumption so you can focus on other things besides travel.

Con: Limited Information

A college’s website might not have the answers to every single question you have. Maybe you’re interested in a school’s Biology program, but you don’t know if they allow undergrads to be research assistants—scanning the Biology Major’s page may give you some insight but not a definitive answer. This is when visiting a campus can come in handy, because you’ve got professionals and experts nearby to answer all of your burning questions about student life at that college.

All in All

While we definitely would urge you to take an in-person campus visit if you can, there might be obstacles in your way preventing that from happening—so a virtual tour is a great backup option for people curious about potential colleges.

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