Washington, DC, April 20, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Demand for virtual campus tours is surging among prospective students and colleges hoping to enroll those students, according to education firm EAB. Between March 13 and April 13, nearly 1.4 million people viewed a virtual campus tour produced by YouVisit. High school seniors are taking these tours at a rate 228 percent higher than they were at this time last year. EAB acquired YouVisit, the leading provider of virtual tour and interactive web content for higher education, in December 2019.
“This is the time of year when many high school seniors visit college campuses hoping to experience that ‘falling in love’ moment that will help them make a final decision,” said EAB President of Enrollment Services, Chris Marett. “Those visits are still happening, but they’re happening strictly online in the age of COVID-19.”
Engagement with Virtual Tours Up Among Younger Students Too
College visits are also common among juniors and even sophomores who are beginning their college search. In lieu of physical visits, juniors viewed virtual campus tours between March 13 to April 13, 2020, at a rate 258 percent higher than they did over the same period last year. The corresponding increase for sophomores was 204 percent.
“With the economic impacts of the pandemic likely to last for months if not years, colleges would be wise to engage with high school juniors and even sophomores right now to begin building affinity and filling the pipeline for the fall 2021 enrollment season and beyond,” Marett added.
Student Interest in Out-of-State Schools Remains Strong
Recent surveys have indicated students may be more likely to attend schools closer to home this fall in light of health concerns and rising economic uncertainty. However, EAB’s web traffic data show little year-over-year variation in the percentage of students who view virtual tours of in-state schools (31 percent did so in 2019 versus 29 percent in 2020) compared to out-of-state schools (69 percent in 2019, 71 percent in 2020). While it remains to be seen whether there is any correlation between this data and where students ultimately decide to attend college this fall, interest in out-of-state schools remains strong.
Demand for Virtual Tours Increases Among Colleges and Universities
EAB is currently receiving more inquiries each day from colleges interested in getting a virtual campus tour created than the company would typically see in an entire week before the COVID-19 pandemic. During March, EAB experienced a 221 percent increase in the number of institutions looking to develop virtual tours. Many schools are turning to virtual tours as a way to show off their campus to prospective students and as a substitute for orientation and other on-campus activities for admitted students this spring and summer.
According to an EAB analysis of more than 650,000 students, individuals who share their contact information while on a virtual tour are twice as likely to apply to that school as are students who call or email an institution directly or fill out a form on the school’s website.
“The immediate concern for schools is whether they can yield their 2020 class without campus visits,” said Marett. “Virtual tours are one of the most effective ways for schools to engage prospective students right now and tip the scales in their favor.”
At EAB, our mission is to make education smarter and our communities stronger. We harness the collective power of more than 1,500 schools, colleges, and universities to uncover and apply proven practices and transformative insights. And since complex problems require multifaceted solutions, we work with each school differently to apply these insights through a customized blend of research, technology, and services. From kindergarten to college and beyond, EAB partners with education leaders, practitioners, and staffs to accelerate progress and drive results across three key areas: enrollment management, student success, and institutional operations and strategy.