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Virtual campus visits let students, parents check out colleges

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YourCampus360 now offers panoramic 'walking tours' of campuses in 30 U.S. states via Android smartphones, as well as the Apple iPhone and iPad.

One parenting chore that I do not envy my friends is the dreaded perpetual parade of college and university campus visits, which is not only time-consuming but qualifies as just another expensive part of the whole college application and selection process. Just the other day, one of them wished out loud that she could visit some of the fringe schools virtually -- as least to see if they were worth an in-person visit.

I have already told her about a company called YourCampus360 that is tackling this academic challenge. The company designs Virtual Campus Visits that provide a realistic facsimile of a real walking tour, showing off points of interest, and allowing would-be students to browse buildings and campus features at their own pace.

As you can see from the image above, which shows the application's Facebook integration, you can do this from a personal computer and there is extensive integration with social networks. More recently YourCampus360 has added mobile applications for Android smartphones and for the Apple iPhone and iPad. The reasoning is pretty simple: that is how much teenagers interact with the world and with the Internet.

In a statement accompanying the mobile launch information, YourCampus 360 CEO Abi Mandelbaum said:

"Mobile applications and social media are key marketing channels for colleges and universities to interact and share with prospective students virtual tours, pictures, videos, news, athletic scores, academic programs, and other important school information that prospective students are interested in. Our mobile technology is an excellent lead-generation tool that actually helps stimulate physical campus visits, and also helps college administrators target and track prospective students from initial interest all the way to application and enrollment."

There are schools from more than 30 U.S. States and Canada represented on the virtual campus tours guide page, including Yale University, Stony Brook University and one that is in my backyard, William Paterson University.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure