The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Albion College to reform many aspects of life on campus, including the duties of student workers. Included in those affected workers are the tour guides for prospective Albion students.
The purpose of tour guides is to give prospective students a look into life on campus. When life on campus started to look different, so did the tour routes.
“The tour route changed completely this year,” said tour guide Shelby Palmer, a junior from Holt. “We’re not allowed to go in as many buildings. We’re not allowed to go into the residence halls anymore.”
In compliance with Albion College’s Together Safely plan, non-residents are not allowed to enter residential facilities. In response to this, dorm furnishings are placed in the admissions center for tour guides to show prospective students what a typical dorm looks like.
In addition to residence halls, visits to other buildings have been limited or removed completely.
“We’re limited. We can’t go on all four levels of the KC. We can only walk through one part,” said Palmer. “We can only walk through one part of the library too.”
Prospective student tours do not remain entirely limited, however. There are also new stops on the route.
“We’re showing everyone the Dow, the new inside of the Dow and the football stadium,” said tour guide Alivia Benedict, a junior from Vermontville. “That’s kind of the big stuff.”
In addition to the adjusted in-person tours, admissions has also added a new tour form for potential students. Prospective students unwilling or unable to make it to campus can now attend personalized virtual tours with student tour guides.
“We did training on virtual tours,” said Palmer. “We had the chance to personalize our presentation and the opportunity to practice it with each other and make sure we were trained on it so that we could start giving virtual tours.”
Each tour guide was given a generic template for the virtual tour and was encouraged to personalize it for their own virtual tour presentation.
“We were asked to kind of make it our own,” said Benedict. “A lot of us put our bitmojis in it. We put our own photos in it. We tried to make it fun.”
Similar to the in-person tours, the virtual tours also have their limitations. Virtual tours are usually half the time of an in-person tour on Albion’s campus.
“You still get to give them a lot of information, but it’s hard to make the one-on-one connection that you can in normal tours,” said Palmer. “We’re only allowed 35 minutes with our students versus a typical tour, which is about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, so it’s harder to make personal connections like you get to have on a tour here at Albion College.”
Despite the difficulties with timing, virtual tours still offer a new avenue for tour guides to present Albion’s campus to prospective students.
“I think it’s really nice to be able to still give that option without them having to come all the way down here,” said Benedict. “I think once things die down a bit, we’ll still be able to have that virtual tour aspect. It’s really nice because we can communicate with anybody from anywhere in the country, theoretically from anywhere in the world if we wanted to.”
Though both in-person and virtual tours of campus have been limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also allowed student tour guides to show Albion at its best.
“Although we are a little bit more limited in what we can do, you still get to experience Albion College and the community on campus,” said Palmer. “I know that’s a really cool experience for the families to see because then they’re seeing how tight knit the community is and that we are doing everything safely so that when they come here, there’s no need to be worried about catching COVID.”