The Division of Student Life and the Office of Admissions at the University of Florida have launched a virtual campus tour featuring 14 locations around campus, including Century Tower, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and the Plaza of the Americas.
The tour, available on the free GatorWay mobile app from the App Store or Google Play, can be taken remotely or as self-guided, 1.5-mile trip through campus. Each stop has a student narrator, photos and a written description.
Since debuting in March, the tour has been downloaded more than 4,200 times, said Rachel Evans, an admissions officer at UF.
“It’s an example of necessity and innovation meeting when the moment calls for it,” said Mickey Howard, who is the associate director of marketing and strategic communications at the Division of Student Life. “This year was a moment for us to envision what can be while continuing to serve our current, future and forever Gators.”
The tour can introduce potential students who aren’t in Gainesville to some of UF’s signature spots and allow alumni to revisit some of their favorite campus locations. It’s also a helpful resource for people who have already visited campus. Evans noted that parents and families sometimes take the virtual tour in addition to touring campus using a printable map for more information and context.
“Every time a prospective student calls to say that they want to visit but all the campus tours are full, I am pleased to hear the disappointment leave their voices after I am able to tell them that they can facilitate their own experience by way of the virtual self-guided tour,” she said.
After a key event for new students was cancelled in early 2020 due to the pandemic, Evans and her team decided to put together itineraries with virtual and in-person options for spring 2021. She reached out to Howard, who was working on adding features to the GatorWay app.
“As he was explaining the features of this upgrade, I immediately got excited because I could see right away what a useful tool this could be for prospective and admitted students,” Evans said. “As time goes on, I am confident that we will be able to realize even more ways the virtual self-guided tour tool will prove to be instrumental in recruiting the best and the brightest students.”
The GatorWay app also features a guide for new students and their families and information about on-campus events. Students and their families can create accounts for personalized updates. To access the tour, open the GatorWay app and select “University of Florida Self-Guided Tour,” tap the menu icon at the top left, and click “Self-Guided Tour.”
Sources: Mickey Howard, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Rachel Evans, email@example.com
Writer: Halle Marchese, firstname.lastname@example.org