For high school juniors and seniors—and their parents—the college visit is a time-honored tradition. But it’s also expensive and time-consuming, particularly if the eager student in question wants to see four, five, or even a dozen schools. For a lot of families, planning that many visits is simply impossible. The result? A student ends up making a decision about where to go to college with incomplete information. Today, this situation is changing in a major way. Virtual reality (VR) technology has arrived to transport prospective students quickly and easily to the college or university they’re interested in.

VR isn’t just a boon to high school students and their cash-strapped parents. It’s providing a big benefit to the college and universities who spend big money on recruitment. For example, Iowa State University is now using VR to let football players experience a game by partnering with James Oliver, director of the Virtual Reality Applications Center, to recreate a virtual version of Jack Trice Stadium with cheerleaders, a marching band, and fans. This technology isn’t just a recruiter’s dream when it comes to attracting talented student athletes, it’s also a powerful tool for rounding out the entire freshman class.

For example, after the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) introduced AR and VR recruiting tools two years ago, the percentage of admissions applications went up 26%.[1] And SCAD isn’t alone. Among other schools implementing VR into its recruitment arsenal are Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, The University of Hartford, Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and Kent State University in Ohio.[2]

When it comes to higher education, VR has gone from far-out future tech to daily reality. But if you want to sample the campus eats, you’ll still have to get in your car and hit the road. For now.

[1] https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2017/10/college-recruiting-goes-virtual-immersive-technology?utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral

[2] http://www.ecityinteractive.com/blog/6-innovative-colleges-universities-using-virtual-reality-tours-enhance-recruitment/