Boosting College Recruitment Using 360° Tours

2021 7 360 VR Tour Cover Cardboard

For many secondary school students, exploring future options with their local college during the pandemic has been a mission. With restrictions in place and little access to advice for learners to make decisions, college recruitment teams have had a tough break attracting fresh talent.

To aid college recruitment and get young learners back on track, we introduced 360° campus tours in virtual reality. The tours give colleges power to engage prospective students by giving them a taste of college life from anywhere in the UK. Whether that’s at home or a classroom.

Taking a gamified approach, 9 out of 10 learners partaking in these VR experiences felt more enthusiastic about the future. Lets take a look at what these tours look like, why the pandemic made them vital, and how students, teachers, and colleges are benefitting from their impact.

Has the pandemic affected college recruitment?

In short, yes. The pandemic has created a wave of ambivalent students. Our studies show 70% of young people don’t know what they want. While such uncertainty isn’t uncommon, 78% of youngsters admit to feeling fear about making the right choices. Especially in today’s climate.

Due to this fear, their priorities are changing. In fact, over half 54% of young people say they’re reassessing their options. Students cite the unpredictability of the pandemic for their shifting views towards college as a route to work. That and the limited information to make decisions.

Are learners considering college as an option?

In our recent Careers After Covid report, we asked 1,000+ learners for their insights into post-16 options. We presented the four major pathways: college - the most traditional route – as well as university, apprenticeships, and heading into a new job when they left school. We wanted to know if college was still a focus for learners making choices. If not, how could we re-engage them.

Surprisingly, just 37% of learners had college in their sights. 18% were having second thoughts about college. Meanwhile, 31% of youngsters stated the appeal of an apprenticeship was too good to pass up. What with the chance to gain work and college experience and still get paid. 

While it’s unlikely college recruitment will see a major plummet, re-engaging these uncertain students should be a priority. One way colleges can tackle these issues is through technology. Specifically, offering 360° tours in VR that beam learners to the heart of their college campus.

Using tech to reach learners in the pandemic

What social distancing has proven is the world needs to be more accessible. VR technology is already playing a role in business to create immersive training experiences for employees. So why aren’t colleges tapping into this tech to raise recruitment and reach their target audience.

After all, Gen Z learners are tech savvy. They love their apps, gaming, and virtual reality. 360° tours are a fun way for colleges to put the future into learners’ hands in ways they understand. The tours nurture autonomous discovery as learners explore college pathways on their terms.

According to gamesandlearning.org, 70% of teachers saw a boost in engagement when using educational content from a gamified angle. In our recent study, 76% of educators agreed that using technology, such as VR, in and out the classroom would greatly motivate their learners.

The importance of college virtual tours

Open days are a deciding factor for learners choosing a college. When visiting a campus, they’re looking for a place to belong filled with passionate teachers and likeminded students. In essence, they’re searching for a positive personal experience that leaves a warm and lasting impression.

However, learners cannot attend every open day. Whatever their reason, be it the pandemic, time, or exam pressures, learners will be selective. What that means is if a college hasn’t made an early impression, they’ll likely lose the prospect. VR can help prevent that from happening.  

Virtual visits are an ideal substitute for learners who want to explore a college and learn about its courses, its facilities, confirm their options or narrow their shortlist. The nature of 360 visits makes them super accessible, too. Available on any device, even from the comforts of home.

Moreover, as social restrictions ease up and thousands of aspirants begin to attend open days, it can be hard for colleges to tailor experiences. Days often have rigid schedules, which won’t work for everyone. 360° tours are about the individual and takes them on an exciting journey.

What do our 360° tours look like?

Our 360° tours are a user-friendly way to give young people the information to decide on the right college. Colleges have power to create impactful audio-visual experiences which begin when a learner puts on a VR headset. Tours can be taken on phones, tablets, or a laptop, too.

Our tours are designed to answer questions students are asking. For example, what do classrooms look like. The journey is driven by simple, clear pop-ups to click between departments. There are also plenty of insights from students and teachers along the way to keep learners informed.

As aspirants explore departments, they can see students and teachers in action. For example, in photography class, they might see students collaborating on a photoshoot in a real studio. Visitors can then view photos galleries of facilities or watch videos about studying specific courses.

If they like what they see, there’s a link to the course on the college’s website to learn more. Here they can see modules, entry requirements, how to apply, make enquiries and their next steps. More informed, they can happily tour other areas of the campus, such as the library or canteen.  

Why not take one our tours yourself with North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College. Click the link to take one of two college campus tours: 360° virtual reality college campus tour.

Youngsters had a blast in taking VR 360° tours

Across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, Launch Your Career has been working with colleges to create stimulating virtual tours. Equally, we’re working with career advisors, secondary schools, and LEPS to activate learners by putting them in touch with colleges and our 360° experiences.

Several schools regionwide have opened learners eyes to a new dimension. This includes the academies Nuneaton and Earl Shilton, which trialled the tour offered by North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College. Educators say that it’s created a wow moment for students.

Lara Hall, Principal at Nuneaton Academy, commented: ‘It gives [learners] a goal. I think that’s the main thing in all of this. It’s not just about surviving the pandemic. It’s about them thriving and having the aspiration to do exactly what they want to when they leave [secondary school].’

Nine in ten young people felt more insightful after using our VR experiences. Summer, a year 10 pupil at Earl Shilton, said: "I am interested in doing photography when I leave school, so it was really good to be able to see what equipment the college uses and what the campus looks like.

The drive to engage learners was reported by the BBC. You can check out the coverage here, by Kevin Reide. With insights from students and teachers alike on the magic of our 360° tours.

Open their eyes to opportunity

Digital tours aren’t looking to replace real campus visits. However, during the pandemic, and even in the future when a student just can’t attend an open day, VR tours can make a difference. Schools can give young learners more options while college recruitment can be fully enhanced.

Greg Parker, career-led learning director at Launch Your Career, said: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see. We need to show young people all the exciting options that are out there, otherwise they will simply limit their dreams to what their parents or friends did or what they saw on TV.’

Dan Heffernan, careers and young people lead at D2N2, said: ‘Using innovative technology like virtual reality will help to bridge this gap by raising awareness, raising aspirations and bringing to life all the amazing opportunities available to young people.

For more information about our 360 virtual tours and college recruitment, how they work, or even if you’d like a tour yourself, please get in touch. You can contact us here.

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