NORMAL — High school students and their families will have a new way to learn about Illinois State University later this year thanks to an episode of “The College Tour.”
The show’s crew and host Alex Boylan visited ISU this week to talk with students for the episode, which is expected to be available for streaming on Amazon Prime in November. Boylan also hosted a press conference to answer media questions about the show.
Episodes feature students talking about their experience at the school, often speaking about the things that make the school unique. ISU’s episode will include ten students, including students involved in Esports and the Gamma Phi Circus, Boylan said.
Students were able to submit two-minute videos to a casting call earlier this year, the university said.
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“If you’re leaning into a casting video, it’s a gut (feeling), a good sign the audience is going to be leaning in,” Boylan said.
The show launched in late 2020, with the first episode on Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Since then, Boylan has visited more than 50 schools for the show. ISU will be covered in the first episode of season six.
The production process is a collaboration between the show and the school, Boylan said. That includes two months of pre-production planning to determine what should be highlighted.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was featured in the first season. The show’s website includes a testimonial from UIUC Senior Executive of Marketing and Media Matt Wszolek, who said he appreciated the collaborative nature of the project.
Boylan has been a TV show host and producer since he got into the field after winning the second season of “The Amazing Race” in 2002. He was inspired to create “The College Tour” after his niece visited him in Los Angeles to see colleges. She wanted to visit other schools in other states, but it was too expensive for her family.
The episode will likely be available for viewing through the university and other means before its Amazon Prime debut, Boylan said. He is proud that no one has to pay to watch; people can even stream it on Amazon without a Prime subscription.
“We want anyone in high school across the world to be able to access this content,” he said.
Episodes can also be seen on the show’s website, The College Tour phone app, YouTube and on smart TVs and Roku devices. Individual clips are also available, which helps the show work for both parents and high school students who might be looking to watch shorter videos on their phones, Boylan said.
“You can sit back and watch a half-hour episode or its modules,” he said.
“The College Tour” is different from other shows he has worked on, in part because it grew from a personal experience, Boylan said. Having the chance to work with students for each episode is also new, but he finds being around them invigorating and inspiring, he said.
“Best of all, you get to work with students,” Boylan said.
Contact Connor Wood at (309)820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter: @connorkwood