Colleges alter traditional college admissions process amid coronavirus pandemic

Virtual tour platforms are reporting a “much larger than usual volume of calls" from colleges.

Many colleges are canceling in-person tours and moving to online tours for accepted and interested students to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Colleges across the country are canceling on-campus and in-person admissions tours and switching over to virtual tours as colleges continue to close for the semester in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to EdSurge, virtual platforms are seeing a major increase in usage on their sites and products as colleges continue to cancel tours. In addition, these companies have stated that they are planning to work with their partnering schools on marketing efforts so that enrollment pushes do not have to cease.

The companies encouraged students to stay in touch with their schools for information about admission events that are being moved online in accordance with state and administration orders.

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Several colleges have announced a shift to online and virtual tours over the last few weeks, including the following: 

Wayne State University

University of Denver

University of Southern Maine

Bryan College

Penn State

Biola University

Virginia Union University

“CampusReel has seen a tremendous uptick in student registrations since the closing of colleges and cancellation of visit days,” co-founder Rob Carroll told Campus Reform about the movement to virtual tours.

Carroll stated that the company is doing everything it can to share its tour-based videos with as many sites as possible with its “robust content distribution network” to allow students and others to access content without going to the platform directly.

“Our college partners are also seeing a huge benefit from this network effect and we’re working closely with a number of them to drive awareness of the platform further through social media channels and email marketing,” Carroll said.

CampusReel stated that its videos are student-made and provide exceptional value during this time and would make up for the lack of in-person visits and discussions.

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“We are fielding a much larger than usual volume of calls and emails from colleges interested in virtual tours and other types of interactive digital content,” EAB Managing Director of Marketing Partner Development Jeff Soriano told Campus Reform about its YouVisit virtual tour platform.

EAB reported that traffic to YouVisit saw a large spike as colleges closed their in-person tours, essentially doubling for a period of time in March.

“Even before this challenging time virtual tours were becoming a norm, as students are choosing to put off visits until they’ve been accepted,” Soriano said, adding that more students are opting to go out of state for college. 

Soriano also stated that students are being forced into making the choice of having a virtual tour because of the current coronavirus situation, adding that “nothing beats a physical campus visit” but acknowledges such an option isn’t practical at this time. 

“We’d all like to return to the days of unrestricted travel,” Soriano added, “but even when that happens, virtual tours will still provide an excellent way for students and families to get a taste of campus life from the comfort and safety of their homes.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @JesseStiller3