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College tours now virtual

College tours and visits may be a thing of the past with the introduction of a new iPhone application that offers virtual college campus tours.

The application, known as uTourX, takes the user through a simulated tour much like a live tour of a university.

As of now, UCF will not be one of the colleges available to tour virtually.

“The best way to learn about a college is to personally make a visit,” Kimberly Lewis with UCF News & Information said. Lewis said the university currently has 20 student tour guides who work part time giving tours two times a day, five days a week.

“I would have used the application [as a freshman],” senior advertising and public relations major Kyrsten Cazas said. “It definitely would have helped me at least get acquainted with the campus faster.”

With more universities in the works and the economy at a low, this application begins to question the dire need for live tours and paid tour guides.

Created by Yale University student Max Uhlenhuth, uTourX also contains information on various buildings and monuments on the university the user is “touring.” Each individual tour will cost the user around $5 to download.

While the program is still pending approval by Apple, it already has full-featured tours for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Yale University and Stanford University, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Although some of its profits will go to Apple, a portion of the money made will go back to the school the user is exploring.

Local Apple outlets could not comment about the new application.

Dan Getejanc, a member of Best Buy’s Geek Squad at Waterford Lakes, said Apple just reached its 100,000th application for iPhone and iPod Touch users.

Although many are simple and used recreationally, there are specific steps and rules that need to be followed to create an application.

However, Getejanc said the approval procedure for a program like uTourX isn’t complex.

“Overall, it isn’t a difficult process,” Getejanc said. “Any UCF computer science student shouldn’t have an issue if they wanted to create an application.”

uTourX will not only work alongside with Google Maps, but will also have GPS capabilities so it will know the location of the building on each college campus. One area of development for the program is a specified tour for a prospective student’s certain area of interest. This feature would potentially add a greater benefit for a new student rather than a generalized tour, something Cazas said she could have used.

“Even now there are parts of campus I’ve never been to,” Cazas said. “I wouldn’t even know how to get there.”

While UCF doesn’t intend on participating in the new application, Lewis said that the university offers its own virtual tour on the school’s admission section of the Web site. The online tour, called YOUniversity, is free and Lewis said she suggests it for perspective students who live out of state.

“They’re currently updating the tour since we’re now the third largest university in the country,” Lewis said. “[The virtual tours] cannot replace an in-person tour. You just can’t get the experience you get when you come out on campus, however, out-of-state students can look at the Web site.”

Central Florida Future – College tours now virtual.