High school students interested in joining the Wolfpack can now look around Wolf Plaza and peek inside the Talley Student Union without spending a penny on gas money.
A new app provides virtual reality tours of NC State and 15 other schools in the University of North Carolina System. Videos provide panoramic views of campus landmarks and buildings, allowing users to look left, right, up or down just by tilting their phones. Links provide fast access to the universities’ application and financial aid information, social media accounts and more.
Users can search for GEAR UP VR in the Apple App and Google Play stores to find the free app. GEAR UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, a federal initiative designed to help low-income students achieve postsecondary education. The UNC System is the first to use virtual reality across all its institutions to facilitate college access and offer disadvantaged students the next best thing to an in-person tour of campus.
“Many of us don’t fully appreciate that the campus visit is an accessibility issue,” UNC System President Margaret Spellings says in a news release. “Without it, college can become a guessing game or, too often, a distant pipe dream. This virtual reality technology gives every North Carolinian the opportunity to make more informed choices about where they want to go. Just as importantly, it helps them figure out how they’re going to get there.”
NC State’s video takes viewers inside Hunt Library, Carmichael Gymnasium, Reynolds Coliseum and studios and laboratories around campus. A narrator says students can choose from a variety of degrees, take advantage of job and networking opportunities, and enjoy activities outside the classroom.
“Here at NC State, you’re provided every tool necessary to conquer all of your goals,” the narrator says over footage of researchers on Centennial Campus.
The app may eventually add chatbots so users can communicate with universities instantly. There are also plans to add community colleges and private institutions. Students who cannot access the app can find all 16 available videos online at the UNC System website.