Following the retirement of Marsha Whitehouse, Corey Grazul, ’08 alumna, has shouldered the responsibilities of Albion’s admission visit coordinator, who is in charge of customizing visits for prospective students and their families.
“We kind of call ourselves the concierge of Albion,” Grazul said.
After graduating from Albion, Grazul, who majored in religious studies and minored in economics and management, spent several years as a youth pastor before starting a bike co-op, where he fixed bicycles and gave them to people in need of transportation. He later moved into bike retail. Both jobs, he says, prepared him for his new position at the college. As a youth pastor, he gained experience counseling and coaching students and families, and in the bicycle businesses, he learned the value of customer service.
“That’s really what this job is: customer service,” Grazul said. “If you look at Albion like a marketable product, it’s customer service. What makes Albion stand out in a really saturated market? Why would someone want to spend our sticker price to come to this school? Our job is to make those things really come alive for the families when they come here.”
While his post-graduation experiences prepared him for the coordinator position, Grazul notes that his connections and knowledge of campus that come from having been a student here really equip him with the necessary edge to maximize the tour experience for visiting families.
“A big part of the job is relying on staff, faculty and coaches to meet with prospective families when they come,” Grazul said. “I’m not the one meeting them. I just set up the meetings. The willingness of everyone else on campus is really what makes it happen and being able to kind of have face with those people from when I was a student here has been really helpful.”
According to Bekah Snyder, Albion senior and admissions office intern, Grazul transitioned into the office rather seamlessly, and he quickly earned the approval of the staff.
“I think he’s very personable, and the tour guides who adored Marsha and who were crushed to see her leave are impressed by Corey,” Snyder said in an email. “He’s someone who is hard not to like.” She added later that she has been “extremely impressed with his openness to criticism and new ideas and opinions.”
In his just over two months here, Grazul has spearheaded several alterations to the tour system, chiefest among those changes perhaps being the revamp of the tour guide program. Rather than employ many tour guides who sign up for tours based on their availability, Grazul streamlined the system so that the program employs fewer tour guides but is able to really invest in and manage those students.
“We didn’t really have to let anybody go,” Grazul said. “It was kind of self-selecting. We raised the bar and some students said, ‘Yeah, I’m in,’ and some students said, ‘No, thanks. I’m going to move on to other things.’”
The student tour guides now work on a defined schedule, meaning they come in when they are assigned, and if any tours need to be given, they take care of them. If not, they may be asked to work in the office.
“I like the fact that it is a set schedule, like it would be in the real world work place,” said Dorothy Cheng, Ann Arbor senior and tour guide. “I think it sometimes is a pain to clear out my schedule for an unscheduled tour, but we do get paid for the hour whether there is a tour that comes or not.”
This new system, however, entails the departure from the traditional individualized tours, thus allowing for multiple families to be grouped into the same tour, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
“The thought behind this is that families may feed off each other’s questions and be able to gain prospective from a different family with different campus experiences,” Snyder said in an email. “It’s a very different direction than we’ve focused on in the past, yet it’ll be interesting to see how these changes affect the visit experience.”
Grazul’s primary focus is simply on making the visit experience better for both prospective students and the college. Grazul notes the importance of attending to the smallest details, like encouraging visitors to catalog and share their experiences via social media or explaining how the town of Albion may not be a traditional college town, but is great for getting involved in the community, when dealing with families with whom admissions might only get one shot.
“We just changed from crappy coffee to Zingerman’s coffee in the lobby here, which to some people that’s nothing, but to me that’s a really big step in the direction of making this experience better than any other place,” Grazul said. “It’s little things like that that are memorable for families.”
Moving forward, Grazul hopes continue maximizing the tour experience while also addressing the tour registration software that, as of right now, requires much work and time just to manage—time that would be better spent on other aspects of the program. Grazul says any interested and capable Albion students are welcome to tackle this issue for the admissions office.
Photo by Travis Trombley