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Use other online campus tour programs: There are hundreds of campus tours available on YouVisit, Campus Reel and YouTube. Many of these are student generated and present a different outlook. Compare and contrast. Use these as a stepping-stone to narrowing down your college list, but always go back to Admission for up-to-date facts.

Target specific areas of interest to you: If you are going to be living on campus, as you ‘tour’, check out housing and dining options, on-campus transportation and student security. If you have an idea of your major, examine classrooms, laboratories, research facilities, libraries, and computer access. If you know you’ll need some support—and almost every single student does at some point during their college career—check out the Writing Center, learning disability support services, counseling and health centers, tutoring and pre-professional advising. And, of course, check out the gymnasium, sports facilities, theaters, and Greek Life options.

Go macro: After you’ve done a thorough tour around the campus and checked out all the aspects of interest to you, spread out. Use Google Maps to examine both distances around the campus and outside the campus. How far is it to an off-campus bus stop, shopping area, clubs and restaurants, airport, hospital, parks, hiking trails and other outdoor recreation areas? Is the area safe?

Now start talking: When you have a clear idea of both what you want from a college and find colleges with majors of interest, reach out directly to Admission Officers, faculty and students. Identify your high school/regional representative and connect with that person. Email interesting questions based upon your interests and research. Ask about speaking with an alum in your area, and request an introduction to students in your major and faculty in that department. Read about and then speak to a financial aid representative so you have a clear idea of the cost of attendance and possible scholarship options. Use the online calculator.

Use social media: The use of social media as part of your virtual tour is essential. Check out Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and even Twitter to see what’s available to support your visits, your research and your connection with students. Social media is also a great place to explore students’ clubs and organizations.

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