It’s easier than ever to learn about a college through virtual and alternative college tours. Although nothing beats visiting a campus in person—seeing the grounds, the buildings, and the student and faculty interactions, eating in a dining hall, sitting in a classroom, exploring the residential options, and getting a real sense of what spending four years there might be like for you. Click here for our OnToCollege suggestions for how to best visit a campus.

But sometimes, a live visit and interview aren’t always possible due to time, travel, or cost limitations. While not a replacement for a true visit, conversations with college reps and virtual campus tours can help narrow your college list, or supplement your research until you’re able to visit. 

College Representative Visits

Many colleges will send admissions representatives to high schools to meet with interested students in small groups. These reps provide a personal contact at the school, share program-specific details and even give advice on admissions and/or scholarships. Check with your school counselor for a calendar of visits to your school—you’ll usually need to pre-register to attend. Bring a list of questions with you—here’s a list

Virtual and Alternative College Tours

  • Many colleges now offer their own virtual campus tours, including interactive maps and other tools. Most have a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc. , including postings by campus organizations, teams, student government, and more. Some academic departments (generally larger schools) have their own websites and social media. Some schools include virtual tours of residence halls, suites, and other housing options. You can also look for the school newspaper and alumni association’s online presence.
  • CampusReel includes more than 17,000 videos, tours, and commentary from student ambassadors from more than 35 colleges and universities, videos that have been vetted for viewing by prospective students. You can select schools by size, location, rating, region, or an interactive map.
  • includes 360° tours of 1,300+ colleges, searchable by region/state/setting, type of school, programs, admissions, and/or tuition costs.
  • YouVisit includes 600+ colleges and can be filtered by state, public/private, campus setting, enrollment, and/or tuition costs. Colleges can be viewed as a 360° experience or with a virtual reality headset.
  • The College Tour is now filming its fourth season, The College Tour tells the inside story of 30+ colleges through student-driven segments.

It’s always best to put feet on campus before making a final decision, but all of these options can help you save time and money (and keep you from missing high school classes!) while you narrow your list of choices.