It’s nothing new for high schools to host college fairs. They’re a quick way for students to learn about a large number of potential schools. What’s new is that increasingly, reps at those fairs are handing teens Google Cardboard or other virtual reality headsets so they can take a quick tour without ever leaving their high schools.
Saint Francis High School, a private Catholic school in Mountain View, California, recently hosted a fair where two colleges were giving virtual tours, said counselor Hector Camacho. He thinks the higher education market was wise to become an early adopter of virtual reality.
“When we’re discussing fit, it’s one thing to describe a college on paper, but it’s a whole other thing for a student to take a virtual tour of a school across the country,” Camacho says.
While most students would like to tour all their top university choices in person to get a feel for the campus, that’s not always economically feasible, since college visits can cost thousands in airfare and lodging. Virtual tours can be part of the winnowing process to eliminate “maybes” and get down to a short list of schools that the student will visit in person. (See also: 10 Ways for College Students to Save Loads of Money)
A virtual tour is, at its simplest, a series of photos of the college campus that can be viewed from 360 degrees. You won’t need a high-end VR headset like an Oculus Rift. Colleges want as many students as possible to take the tours, so you can usually view them on a computer, on a tablet or phone for free, or for a more immersive experience, on the $15 Google…