Virtual reality tours give rural students a glimpse of college life
Students at Person High School use cardboard goggles to take a virtual tour of University of North Carolina campuses. (Person County Schools)

Students at Person High School use cardboard goggles to take a virtual tour of University of North Carolina campuses. (Person County Schools)

The first time that Nyah visited the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for a campus tour, there wasn’t much of a chance to see what takes place inside the classrooms.

“We just walked by buildings and the guide talked about what goes on inside,” Nyah recalls of the campus tour this past spring.

But during a second “tour” of UNC Greensboro this fall, Nyah, now a senior, got to see students in a science lab, even though she never left her high school in Roxboro, North Carolina, a small city of about 8,400 more than an hour from the Greensboro campus.

Rather, Nyah got to “see” UNC Greensboro through cardboard goggles and an immersive 360-degree virtual reality college tour app that I’m helping to develop and test for the University of North Carolina System. The project is being funded through a federal grant for North Carolina’s GEAR UP program. GEAR UP – an acronym that stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs – is a federally funded program to increase high school graduation, college readiness and college enrollment at low resource high schools.

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