Justin Toumberlin and Rebekah Nelson
The admissions department at Baker University is hard at work year-round, interacting with prospective students from all over the world. A large part of this is giving campus tours to these students to give them a feel of what life at Baker truly is. But with campus shut down for the remainder of the semester, admissions has had to find another way to show prospective students the Baker experience.
It is challenging to replace an in-person tour with online video chats, but that is exactly what admissions and the university admissions assistants, or UAA’s, have had to do.
“Students are signing up on an online registration if they would like to do a virtual tour,” Director of Campus Visit Experience Eva Durand said.
Prospective students are meeting with faculty and UAA’s through Zoom for what admissions is now calling “virtual visits.”
“They show about a 4 minute video, we’re calling it a ‘sneak peak,’ of our campus tour,” Durand said.
After the video, prospective students are able to chat with professors, coaches, and the UAA’s about their college transition and the Baker community. The UAA’s have a very important job during in-person tours, but even more so during online visits.
“Understanding what the student wants in just 10 minutes when we normally chat for 30 minutes to an hour creates a barrier, and since it’s online it is even harder,” junior Dylan Kort said. “We dive into why they might want to attend and try and make them feel as if they will be welcomed with open arms.”
Since beginning online visits, the admissions department has seen promising responses.
“I know some feedback we have gotten back from some prospective students is that they got more out of it than they thought they would from the virtual visit,” Durand said.
Along with the visit itself, UAAs are important for prospective students to meet and interact with as these people are potential peers and mentors for this college transition. For junior Victoria Aceves-Power, showing new students what Baker is all about and the pride she has for the school is what she loves most.
“It allows me to provide prospective students an insight into the distinct qualities that make Baker so special and show them why BU could be the best school for them,” Aceves-Power said.
Now, the admissions office is looking for more students interested in helping these students. Baker students can now apply to be a UAA and give tours and share their own Baker experience to prospective students.
Being a part of this group has been something Aceves-Power has found to be beneficial even for herself.
“Having the opportunity to ease a prospective student’s mind regarding all of their college-related inquiries is incredibly rewarding.”
The admissions department is looking forward to the future with new UAA’s applying as well as this new form of giving virtual tours.
“We will probably be doing some sort of virtual visits going forward even once we are back on campus,” Durand said. “For those who are out of state, and for those who maybe want to get a little bit of taste of Baker and then maybe we can encourage them to come on campus after that.”
Admissions has adapted to show prospective students that Baker University is the right school for them without physically showing them what they mean. But through Zoom conference’s and online interaction, they have adjusted quite smoothly.
“I think it is really awesome that our admissions team found a way to continue to include UAA’s in the prospective student experience,” Kort said. “That’s one of the things that differentiates good from great, and I’m glad to be on the great side.”