New virtual tour of Yale puts campus just a click away

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Student guides take virtual visitors through Yale's campus and its residential colleges and science and athletic facilities.

Lamtharn “Hanoi” Hantrakul ’15 had never set foot on the Yale campus, until he arrived in New Haven in mid-August to begin his freshman year. For Hantrakul, an international student from Thailand, visiting Yale before deciding to attend was not an option.

“The closest I ever got to Yale was through my admitted student packet, and singing along to ‘That’s Why I Chose Yale’ on YouTube,” said Hantrakul. “Flying over to see Handsome Dan during Bulldog Days is not the easiest thing to do when you live over 9,000 miles away!”

Students like Hantrakul were the motivation behind the development of a unique computer-based “360 virtual tour” of the Yale campus by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

“We saw this as an opportunity to further expand our outreach,” said Bowen Posner, senior assistant director of admissions, one of the admissions officers who initiated the project. “This tool creates a first-hand experience for prospective students who don’t have the resources to come to Yale for a tour.”

Yale student guides lead and narrate virtual walking tours through the campus and its residential colleges and science and athletic facilities. Visitors can use arrows to navigate along the tour route or jump to the next stop. Clicking directly on the map or using the drop-down menu takes visitors to specific locations like Kroon Hall, the Yale Bowl, or a residential college dining hall.

Over 50 videos are embedded in the tour, offering an intimate view of life at Yale. These include a group of students speaking with actor Denzel Washington at a master’s tea; a front-row seat at the Yale-Harvard football game; and behind-the-scenes views of the treasures in Yale’s art galleries, libraries, and museums.

“The virtual tour gives prospective students the opportunity to experience walking around a residential college and other areas of campus,” said Ezra Marcus, assistant director of admissions. “That experience is vital to understanding what it’s like to live and learn at Yale.”

In addition to nearly 300 photos, there is a feature that displays 360-degree panoramic views of landmarks such as the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library; the research lab of Nobel laureate Thomas Steitz; and the boardroom of the Yale Daily News.

“One of the things people always comment on when they visit Yale is how striking the campus is, and there is only so much you can communicate with a two-dimensional photo,” said Leah Kelley, director of outreach and recruitment. “Introducing three-dimensional views of campus has opened up a new way for us to convey the beauty of the campus.”

The admissions team noted that numerous entities on campus played a critical role in producing this new recruiting tool. “Departments from athletics to the library were eager to help facilitate the project,” said Posner. “At every stop on the tour, we were fortunate enough to have Yale faculty and staff unlock their doors — sometimes literally — to make this happen.”

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