College Works to Improve Virtual Tour Program

Instead of showing a dorm in a residential building, dorm furnishings are set up in the Bonta Admissions Center for prospective student tours. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced student tours to explore a new route, including a virtual option for tours (Photo by Samantha Semerau).

Albion College has been using technology to its advantage in order to safely continue classes and other on campus events. As a part of Albion’s advancements, the college has started offering virtual tours to potential students. 

Tour guides have found these very helpful as society moves through this pandemic. 

“It’s a good idea with COVID-19 and students who would be uncomfortable with medical conditions,” said Jon Stander, a junior from Grosse Pointe Woods.  

Samantha Addington, the tour guide director at Albion, has her own ideas of why the virtual tours are a good idea. 

“They are great, especially for out of state and international students who cannot travel,” said Addington. 

Although these virtual tours are a great option for prospective students, they have not been as popular as Albion had hoped. Prospective new students are still choosing to physically come visit the school. 

Students want to be able to see where they will be living for the next four years of their lives. They want to experience the energy of the campus and see how students interact with one another.

“It is not the same as in person, and it is not the same feeling,” said Stander. “Sitting at home on another Zoom call is hard, and the desire is not there.”  

Students have different ideas of what they would want to see when they come to visit a college campus. Some look for athletics, some look for clubs, some look for a great atmosphere. Albion wants to show all of those qualities within its virtual tours, but that feat has been difficult to accomplish virtually. 

The tour program is constantly trying to come up with new ways to improve the experience of the virtual tours in order to combat this and give prospective students a better idea of what it is like to attend Albion. 

“I think implementing videos to the virtual tours would be better,” said Stander. “You want different people with different backgrounds telling their experience at Albion.” 

Despite in-person tours being more favorable than virtual tours, Addington said Albion’s virtual tours are still more popular than virtual tours at other schools. Making the virtual tours more interactive and personable is a goal for Albion’s tour guides.

“We have hosted them live, and that is why I think they are more popular here than at other schools, said Addington. “We always use one tour guide per family, so it feels more personal and the families can ask any questions they want.” 

Albion is not only working to make them better and more personal, but also to make them more popular for prospective students. 

“We do a lot of email and mailing invites. We also text students to join the virtual tours,” said Addington. 

Even after the pandemic is over, Albion plans to make virtual tours an available option for potential students. The virtual tours can be helpful in a number of ways, not only for the pandemic.

“Virtual tours are never going to go away and we need to accommodate all families. We want to make virtual tours as personal as we can,” said Addington. 

The option of virtual tours might be especially appealing for out- of- state students who cannot or do not want to travel a long distance to visit the college.

“I think we should have done it sooner especially with out of state students,” said Stander. “Coming here can be a hassle with school and things like that.” 

About Marrissa Price 3 Articles
My name is Marrissa Price and I am first year student. I am an undecided major from Freeland, MI and I enjoy running and watching the Bachelor.

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