In the past, if an Oklahoma student wanted to visit an out-of-state college or university, they either planned a weekend trip or picked up a brochure from a recruiter at a college fair.
But now — with the aid of computers — students can visit as many schools as they want to in one day by taking a virtual tour. And with gasoline costs at $3 a gallon or higher, high school students are parking their cars and giving their parents’ checkbook a break as they visit the college or university of their choice via the Internet. Not only can Oklahoma students visit campuses in Norman, Tulsa and Stillwater as well as other Big 12 schools, they can also visit places such as Honolulu Community College or Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt. Once a student’s choices are narrowed down to the top three or four, a campus visit is still the best way to decide, says Andy Roop, University of Oklahoma director of Prospective Student Services. A personal visit allows a prospective student to get a feeling of the school and whether they will be enjoy their time there. Campus visits allow prospective students to attend a class, eat in the school’s dining hall or stay overnight in a dorm and talking directly with students at the school. But for campuses thousands of miles away, a virtual tour is a godsend. The combination of still photographs and video clips in a flashy media presentation allows students to either navigate a live view of the campus or watch a prepared video. Most virtual tours feature students going to class, homecoming activities and lectures.