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YouVisit.com

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Are you and your offspring spending a fortune on college tours? Narrow your options first with a virtual tour.

» What it does: This website gives you a look at 400 college campuses and universities in the U.S., Europe, Africa and Latin America.

» What’s hot: Parents and prospective students can peruse college after college without opening their wallet to pay for a plane ticket. The tours use virtual guides, panoramic photos, videos and my favorite: photo features that let you see inside the cadet chapel at West Point or stroll around Pepperdine and its Beaman Patio overlooking the Pacific.

» What’s not: The tours are thorough, but nothing can take the place of actually being there. You don’t feel any energy. I wanted fewer marketing photos of buildings and more "real" photos that capture the spirit of what and who you can expect to see on campus. The sounds of a pep rally, sporting event or a professor lecturing in front of a big freshman class would be more realistic.

–Jay Leo / Los Angeles Times

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