IU hopes to lure students with 360-degree campus viewers

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (April 2, 2016) — Indiana University officials hoping to boost enrollment have mailed cardboard viewers to thousands of prospective students who can use them to take a 360-degree virtual tour of the Bloomington campus.

About 8,000 Indiana residents accepted by IU but still undecided about where they’ll attend college were mailed the viewers last month. They can put their smartphones in the viewers and download an app to take in a 360-degree view of the campus.

Only about half of student applicants accepted by IU plan to visit campus before deciding where they’ll attend college, so the school decided to bring the campus to them through the viewers, said David Johnson, IU’s vice provost in the office of enrollment management.

“We believe we’re the first in the Big Ten to utilize this technology,” he told The Herald-Times.

More than 1,500 people have used one of the virtual tour apps so far, Johnson said.

The virtual viewers are one of IU’s recent efforts to get more students to apply and enroll.

Starting Aug. 1, the school will become one of more than 600 universities students can apply to through the Common Application, a national nonprofit that allows students to apply to any of the member colleges using one application. Joining the Common Application will give IU access to about 865,000 applicants, Johnson said.

IU considered joining the Common Application in 2012, but the applicant pool at that time was strong and growing. The following year, IU had a record number of applicants at nearly 38,000, Johnson said, but the number of applicants has since decreased, with only about 34,500 this academic year.

He said the virtual reality apps and the application streamlining process are all part of the strategy to bring IU closer to the students it wants to attract.

“We want to make sure we’re competitive in the spaces where students are,” Johnson said.

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