Colleges across the country stopped giving tours to prospective students because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, but that is only sparking the creativity of one high school counselor.
David Wu is a college counselor at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in Atlanta, and he’s spent hundreds of hours creating virtual college tours for high schoolers who can no longer travel to campuses.
Wu’s love for travel and technology came together to create more than 100 360-degree video tours of college campuses from Maine to California.
At each stop, Wu uses drones, a hoverboard, and a 360 camera to capture the atmosphere of the school. He ships his hoverboard to each campus ahead of time, so when he arrives, he can attach the 360-degree camera to his helmet to create smooth tour videos.
“Kids and their families, they can see, ‘Is this a safe environment? Do I want to live on campus, off-campus, what is it actually like? I’m going to spend four years there’,” said Wu.
Wu said when the coronavirus hit, his students and their families were forced to cancel their college visits and turned to him for help.
“It’s quite frustrating. I’ve only been to Georgia Tech and some local colleges around me, but I haven’t been able to visit my college of interest,” said Hann Wei, a junior in high school in Atlanta. She said her dream schools include Rice and Vanderbilt.
Wei’s classmate Kiko Zhang said she hasn’t set foot on any college campus yet, and now, all her visits are on hold indefinitely.
“I was planning on going this summer, and sadly, I can’t go anymore,” said Zhang.
So, Wu sped up the deadline on his passion project, and it’s become the number one place his students can visit.
“I never imagined the world would be the way it is, and it might go on a little bit longer, so I’m thinking about fall, you know, when these new seniors are applying, and they’re really just applying blind,” said Wu. “I hope this can help a ton of people."
The project took him months to completely update, but now, more than 100, 360-degree college tours are posted for students to experience with 2020 statistics and figures.
Just like a real tour, these videos allow students to look at every angle of the campus including housing and activities around it.
If students look closely and click around in the tours, there are hidden facts and figures on apartment costs, undergraduate starting salaries, and even some fun campus trivia.
“It feels like you’re actually on a tour, and it feels good to know that’s where I’m going to spend the next four years of my future,” said Wei.
Wu said creating a realistic look into each college experience is a top priority.
“Colleges are brands,” said Wu. “They’re marketing themselves to you, the tours are all curated. Well, these 360 ones are very objective: it’s nothing but the truth. What you see is what you get."
In this time where the future remains unseen, Wu is sharing these free tools to help students look at their future with a little more clarity.
“Knowledge is the great equalizer, and the more people who have it, the better off we all are,” said Wu.