YouVisit is a new company that makes virtual tours for universities, restaurants and other businesses. Its three co-founders, among them CEO Endri Tolka, aim to make tours accessible especially to students who can’t go in person and see how the universities and their campuses look. As an Albanian high school student, he went to Brandeis University because his older brother had gone there. He didn’t visit any schools because he couldn’t.
YouVisit is a new weapon in the competitive world of student recruitment, a way for students who can’t make a visit to campuses to see them at their best.
“Now having been to a lot of colleges, I might have made a different choice,” Tolka said in a recent phone interview from his New York office.
YouVisit has now worked with more than 1,000 colleges and universities around the world.
YouVisit employees make most of the videos, although the school usually provides a guide such as Teager.
“We recommend to really think about what a student would experience, and where they would go on a visit if they were there,” Tolka said. “These tours have been very, very important to the schools in terms of being able to recruit students” who live elsewhere.
Tolka said the numbers speak for themselves. For example, since its launch on Nov. 3, the University of Kentucky’s YouVisit tour has had 2,500 visitors, whose average time spent on each visit is 10 minutes. Those visitors were from 44 states and 30 other countries.
According to University of Kentucky spokesman, Jay Blanton, the virtual tours — one of the campus and one of new residence halls — cost about $18,000 annually. The money comes from the marketing budget. He said school officials had wanted an online tour for some time. About 121 student inquiries have resulted directly from the online tour, he said.
“It’s increasingly a tool utilized by leading universities in their recruitment efforts,” he said. “We know from our research that if students come to campus for a visit, they are more likely to enroll. That’s not possible for a lot of students, or you may have an issue where students are deciding which campuses to tour.”
Blanton said the tours, which have Spanish and Mandarin versions, can also reach key recruitment markets.
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