Top Ten University Campus Tour Videos

A good presenter is often the critical difference in a campus tour video.

Imagine you’re filming a travel show at an exotic locale and you have unlimited opportunities to shoot the most amazing location footage. Why would you waste time filming a host?

Why does the local news always look for the ‘human element’ within a story? Why are celebrities so important in our culture? Why do top actors get paid ridiculous amounts of money?

People relate to people. The more ‘relatable’, the closer the connection. Human emotions are how we connect. Information is good. Resonance and connection is gooder. (…it should be a word.)

Without an engaging human component, corporate videos often feel distant and abstract. Adding a human element to a video helps us to understand and relate to the story on a more visceral level.

Campus tour videos often lack a presenter – that’s almost always a mistake. And even when there is a presenter, the video seems falls flat because the presenter is not able to convey the story in an engaging manner.  Often the decision of who presents in a video depends on two decisions:

  1. Do you need someone who is a credible representative. I.e. a student or teacher in a campus tour or an employee or owner in a business video. Being credible is secondary to being engaging. “Hey wait a second…. did that presenter attend that university” likely won’t be the first thing on anyone’s mind at the end of the campus tour video,
  2. What budget do I have to hire a presenter? This is where many videos break down because so little thought goes into this critical component. There’s no point in spending all of your budget on filming and editing if you have to get ‘whoever is available for free at the last minute’ to be your presenter.
University Campus Tour Videos
We’re considering promotional videos used to showcase the campus, facilities and activities of a university.

Here are the three things that affect the engagement value of a campus tour video:

1. Quality/Presence of the Presenter.

Having a good presenter makes a huge difference in a campus tour video. A presenter humanizes the presentation, allows you to imagine yourself in their place and gives the video personality. The better the presenter, the better the video.

It’s surprising how little effort goes into choosing presenters when the presence of a compelling on-camera speaker/presenter has such an outsized impact on the quality of the video.

A great presenter telling a great story in a single take would be far more effective than a couple minutes of beautifully shot campus footage.

2. Quality of the presentation.

What you say and how you say it, matters. Telling stories matters. Being engaging really matters. There’s a big difference between someone pointing to a building and saying – “this is the Abraham Lincoln Library… it has millions of books” and saying “this is where Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg address.”

While facts are important, stories are the things that make us understand, relate to, and remember what is being said in a video.

Many universities don’t bother with a presenter or even voice-over and instead simply choose to employ a series of clips and text overlays set to music. That’s a wasted opportunity.

3. Quality of the footage

Some school tours look like they were developed quickly with little forethought or budget – they were an item on a marketing checklist to be completed.  It’s hard for a viewer to believe in a school’s ‘commitment to excellence’ when their marketing materials don’t represent the school well.

One reason that campus tour videos seem so underfunded is that many universities choose to spend the majority of their video budget on a single large promotional video project and then allocate a very small amount for all other promotional videos, like campus tours. That’s a mistake. The development of all videos should be a done holistically – they should be coordinated. Adding the cost of a good presenter and a bit of extra editing to a major marketing video project can be minimal if the planning for these videos is done correctly.

Here are our Top Ten University Tour Videos:

Brand: NYU, {New York, US}
Production Company: Unknown

Great vibe with very good presenters.

  • This video is structured the same way as most campus tour videos. Use a student presenter(s) to describe different points of interest on campus and use b-roll footage to support what they are saying.
  • The presenters are all very good – quite natural and all look keen and engaged. Using a number of different presenters worked well here as it allows for different perspectives and points of view of the school to be shown.
  • The supporting footage is also excellent. The quality of the footage really adds to the overall presentation in this video.
  • Great use of aerial shots and graphics to show relative locations of what is being described.
  • And sure, having New York city as a backdrop certainly didn’t hurt. If you University setting is cool/different/noteworthy – then you should definitely highlight that fact.

Brand: University of Maryland  {College Park, Maryland, US}
Creative Agency: Unknown

A clever concept with lots to see.

    • A viewer watching a video will make up their minds very quickly whether they are going to continue watching or click away – so give them a reason to keep watching.
    • It’s nice to see something a different in a campus tour. The creative set-up is clever and the first person perspective is fun to watch.
    • A lot of quick cut action shots take you through a roller coaster ride through the campus and beyond.
    • Nice that they tie the concept together with the ‘jump’ back to reality at the end.
    • Great creative concept delivered well.

Brand: Dickinson College  {Oakland, US}
Production Company: Unknown

Excellent presenters and lot’s of information shared.

    • There’s no correct length for a college tour video. Shorter is better but if you have good information to share then longer is good too.
    • The school chose excellent presenters for this video. All very natural speakers and all share the same energy and passion.
    • Good audio mix started and ended with an upbeat music beat but breaking up the video with other music to match the mood and scenes.
    • All the shots are simple but clean – nothing fancy but they all work well together.

Brand: University of Nottingham {Nottingham, UK}
Production Company:  Unknown

Nice camera work supporting good presentations.

    • This video has a slightly different vibe than most college tours.. and that’s a good thing.
    • This video employs a good mix of location shot’s that track with the talent, supporting b-roll shots and aerial shot’s for context.
    • The edit also includes a nice mix of wide, medium and tight shot’s of the presenters which moves the video along quickly and also brings you in a little closer to the talent.
    • Very nicely done.

Brand: Pepperdine {Malibu, California, US}
Production Company: Amber Scholl

User-generated content is becoming more powerful than ‘sanctioned’ content.

    • Show of hands… who’d like to attend university at Malibu Beach? That’s quite the campus setting!
    • Youtube personality Amber Scholl created this video to showcase her alma matter. I don’t know if this was sanctioned by the school in any way but it really doesn’t matter. The school can’t control these types of videos.
    • If you have a big personality and have a big following people will watch your videos. That’s how social media works.
    • Is this a great video? Is this exactly how Pepperdine wants to be portrayed? It doesn’t matter. People are watching this video. Popularity (number of views, view time, number of comments, number of shares) continues to be important to Google so anyone searching for a video campus tour video are going to see the most popular videos first.
    • This is the new normal for brands – you can’t control your message the way you’d like to any more… so you have to figure out a way to work within this new reality.

Brand: Rice University {Houston Texas, US}
Production Company: Unknown

More corporate video than college tour – but very professional.

  • This video feels a bit more like a corporate video than the others. The presenters feel like their reading from scripts… which they all are… in every video, but this one feels a little more so.
  • The video title is ‘Take a Tour of Rice University’ but the video feels more like a promotional video. While there’s often a fine line between the two, I think it’s valuable and important to separate the purely promotional videos from the more purpose built videos like campus tours. If I’m looking to see what it’s like on campus I don’t want to feel like I’m being sold. (Of course you’re being sold – this is all marketing but you don’t want to FEEL like you’re being sold.)
  • This video is very professional, very well shot but it feels more like a sales video than campus tour (which it may well be – but the title suggests otherwise.)

Brand: University of East Anglia {East Anglia, UK}
Production Company: Unknown

Sometimes shorter is better.

  • This video has a great energy and at 90 seconds it packs in a lot of information.
  • The presenters are all quite engaging and natural.
  • Compared to the other videos it seems almost too short but my feeling is that most people would get through this video and be left with a very positive impression – which is the goal.

Brand: Baylor University {Waco, Texas, US}
Production Company: Unknown

A traditional presentation wrapped in a concept.

  • This video uses a ‘come and take a helicopter tour with me’ idea to introduce the video. It’s not a bad idea and the video does cut back to other aerial shots to keep the concept intact.
  • My concern with this video is that the viewer has to sit through 10 seconds of animated logo and another 20 seconds of concept set-up. Neither of those things are a good idea. This all could easily have been cut down to 10 seconds and would have served the same purpose (and kept more people from fleeing the video.)
  • That said, the shots are quite good and the use of a couple different presenters makes the video more interesting.

Brand: Pace University {New York, US}
Production Company: Unknown

Visually rich with an interesting use of graphics

  • The two main presenters are good and the video presents a good mix of other students telling their stories.
  • Quick cuts, big animated swirls, funky dissolves, light leaks, animated cuts… the editor was obviously looking to pad his hours.
  • The aerial shots are very good, in fact most of the videography is very good.
  • Music adds to the fast pace and overall the video is quite well done.

Brand: University College Dublin {Dublin, Ireland}
Production Company: Unknown

Good execution of the ‘standard model’ of university fundraising video creation.

  • Both presenters are easy to watch and do well to tell stories without running into stuff as they do their walk ‘n talk.
  • Lot’s of ground covered in 3 minutes. You get a good sense of the campus and the school in a relatively short period of time.
  • Walking backwards always seems a bit un unnatural to me (watch out for the bike!!!)


Are you aware of a video that should be included in our top ten list. Is so let us know here.

Jimm Fox


Jimm has been working in video and marketing for the last 25 years agency side, client side and in video production.


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