Student employees work hard through the admissions season. Collegian file photo.
TYLER ELLIS | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Butler’s admissions season is in full swing, and high school seniors across the country are beginning to decide on their next steps towards higher education. Butler allows prospective students a few months of deliberation before their enrollment deposit is due on May 1, during which they have many opportunities for tours and campus visits — making campus tour guides a valuable asset to the admissions team.
Campus tours are a key part of incoming college students’ decision-making process, and tour guides have a unique opportunity to represent Butler and its culture to prospective students.
Therefore, selecting a motivated and hard-working team of tour guides is essential to provide students and families with a good first impression.
Sam Plumridge, a sophomore strategic communication major, is in the process of becoming a full-fledged tour guide.
“I personally feel like tour guides are seen as fun people,” Plumridge said. “ … a lot of tour guides that I know are very well known on campus. I’m still in the training process, so I haven’t done an official tour by myself. But I have done four tours … I did two shadow tours and then two tag-teams.”
Although becoming a tour guide is a selective and rigorous process, the work is very rewarding. Plumridge said tour guides take measures to be prepared for whatever happens during a tour.
Rosa Trippel, a junior biochemistry major and second year tour guide, stressed the importance of having a support system at work.
“Admissions is great,” Trippel said. “I really enjoy everyone. They understand if you have an exam coming up and make sure that you have time to study for that. They really want us to succeed as students and people before we put extra time into work, which is so nice.”
Despite the support from staff and each other, it can be difficult to direct tours while school is in session. Students may feel the pressure to perform, especially with the knowledge that they may be a prospective student’s first impression of Butler. Plumridge said it is sometimes daunting to be observed so closely by both families on the tours and by Butler students passing by.
“A part of me is like, ‘Oh, people are examining me like I’m at a zoo,” Plumridge said. “Like, they’re watching me — they’re watching my every move.”
Although visiting academic buildings and common areas during a tour can give prospective students a better idea of an average student’s day-to-day life, for Butler students going about their daily routine, being watched by inquisitive families while going about one’s day can feel uncomfortable. Trippel cited Levinson Family Hall’s “fishbowl”-style classroom as a place where students may understandably feel exposed.
Morgan Evans, a sophomore early childhood education major, attends class in Levinson and agreed with Trippel’s characterization.
“I had a class in the fishbowl classroom, and sometimes it’s kind of difficult to learn when somebody is staring right at you,” Evans said. “But my class … we did try to have fun with it — we would wave at [the tours]. I was giving a presentation, so I just started presenting to the group that was staring at me. And then I think they got shocked that I broke the fourth wall or something, which I found even funnier.”
Evans never took a formal tour because her family lived so close to Butler, but she understands the importance of tours as opposed to more traditional sit-down information sessions. For Evans, walking around the Butler campus was a routine family activity.
“If you walk past [Butler students] just generally living their life, you’re gonna see a little more truth than someone who’s forced to tell you all the good things but nothing else,” Evans said.
Current Butler students that have fond memories of campus tours may be more appreciative of the role that tour guides have on campus and believe the temporary distraction of a tour can be worth it in order to give prospective students the best experience possible. Trippel said she is able to understand both perspectives.
“I think that [Butler students] appreciate the tour guides because a lot of students have had good experiences on their own Butler tour, so they see the importance of it,” Trippel said. “Other times, they think there’s just a lot of tours. So sometimes it might be a little bit overwhelming if you’re trying to study and there’s a lot of people coming in and out of buildings that are just … looking at you.”
Another common struggle among tour guides is keeping their energy up when groups seem unresponsive. Trippel emphasized the importance of asking good questions and staying engaged in order for students to get the most out of their Butler tour — and that tour groups that ask fewer questions and provide less feedback are more difficult to work with, as it can be hard to establish a connection and further personalize their experience. Casual conversation and questions about tour guides’ own Butler stories often give good insights into the best parts of campus life.
“People really like to know why we chose Butler as a tour guide, and I love sharing that, along with my favorite parts of the university because then I get to share from personal experience why I truly love Butler, which is always fun,” Trippel said.
However, approaching college decision deadlines mean bigger tours, which Trippel said are more difficult to personalize. With almost two months left until students make their college decision, Butler offers more and more opportunities to tour, including admitted student visits that are available Monday through Friday.
“It just makes for larger groups, which is tough for personal connection with students,” Trippel said. “Instead of having one or two families, you have five or six or seven or eight, so then it’s harder to get to know the individual students.”
Specific colleges also offer information sessions with the opportunity to meet select faculty members within the departments of interest. Other admitted student opportunities include the True Blue events, which introduce students to Butler through student-led panels and tickets to Butler Ballet’s Swan Lake.
Despite tricky situations and the pressure to perform, being a campus tour guide has long-lasting benefits.
“It’s amazing, and it’s very rewarding,” Trippel said. “I’ve had multiple students email me after the tour and say, ‘Hey, that was a great tour. I really enjoyed getting to know you, and I think I may come to Butler now.’ So that’s definitely rewarding.”