The doorway into Kent State

Abby Fisher

Tour guides introduce potential students to campus, college life

Jenny Hanis, a senior high school student from Dayton, observes a tour of a mock dorm room in Eastway Center presented by campus tour guide Candace Wiggins, senior human development and family studies major.

Credit: Steve Schirra

Flanked by her parents on each side, Jenny Hanis looked a bit overwhelmed. It was her first time on the Kent State campus. A high school senior from Dayton, Hanis decided that Kent State was just far enough away from her parents that she could survive.

For many high school juniors and seniors, a campus tour is an integral part to narrowing their choice of colleges. With dozens of student tour guides, campus tours are available twice a day throughout the week.

And Kent State’s tour guides tick like clockwork.

Senior geology major Bethany Weeder is just one of many student tour guides with the Admissions Office. A tour guide’s job includes more than just leading high school students and their families around campus.

“We prepare a packet for each person who signs up for a tour,” Weeder said.

The packets contain a list of on-campus student organizations and flyers about financial aid, Residence Services and athletics.

When students come into the Michael Schwartz Center to check in for their tour, a student tour guide also will give them a booklet that has information about specific majors and programs offered at the university.

“We also help plan the Academic Discovery Days,” Weeder said. “That’s where incoming students can get more in-depth information about their major and we give tours on those days too.”

Weeder said there are typically more high school seniors that tour in the fall and juniors in the spring.

Jerad Dudley, senior geology major and third-year tour guide, said one of the most important aspects to keep in mind while giving tours is making sure the students leave with good information.

“Every tour is different,” he said. “I usually talk a lot about the student organizations.”

Candace Wiggins, senior human development and family studies major, is a first-semester tour guide.

“The tours I like the most are the ones where people ask a lot of questions and get involved,” she said.

Wiggins said that the parents tend to ask the more serious questions.

“Parents are concerned about security and the meal plans,” she said. “Students – they want to know about parking and partying,” she said.

Weeder agrees.

“A lot of them want to know about the fraternities and sororities,” she said.

The tours have two parts. After students check in, they watch a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation that briefly runs over Kent State’s statistical information.

Christopher Buttenschon, assistant director of admissions, said that Kent State is among the top universities in Ohio, ranked by the Princeton Review.

“We also offer more than 272 undergraduate programs and 18 varsity sports,” he said.

Buttenschon, who directed the PowerPoint presentation and answered questions for potential students, encouraged high school seniors to apply soon.

“I recommend that students get their applications in by Thanksgiving,” he said. “That way, they’ll know by Christmas whether they’ve been accepted or not.”

After the PowerPoint presentation is over, a handful of student tour guides pick up students and their parents and begin to show them around the campus.

“The actual tour itself is more hands-on,” Dudley said. “Tours are supposed to last around 90 minutes, but a typical tour is usually between one and two hours.”

While the tour guides lead people around campus, they explain LERs and academic advising. Tour guides also show students one of the lecture halls in Bowman, the Hub and a series of mock residence hall rooms in the Eastway Center.

Wiggins said that seeing the residence hall rooms is usually a student’s favorite part of the tour.

“It’s good because they can get an idea of what to expect and how much stuff they can bring before they move in,” she said.

Freshman nursing major Courtney Nannah toured the campus before she moved into the residence halls.

“The tour convinced me to go here,” she said. “They gave me lots of good information.”

The only downside to Nannah’s tour experience was finding out what her future residence hall room would look like.

“I wish they would have shown us an actual dorm room,” she said. “The examples that they show don’t look anything like a real room – they seem smaller and there’s hardly anything in them.”

Other students, such as freshman exploratory major Marissa Fasko, opted not to take a campus tour before coming to the university.

“I only live 45 minutes away, so I thought I’d be okay,” the Medina resident said.

When she arrived on campus in August, Fasko quickly learned how confusing maneuvering her way around could be.

“During the first couple of weeks of school, I was completely lost – I had to ask my roommate where everything was,” she said.

“I wish I would have taken a tour,” she said. “I think it would have been very beneficial to me and given me a better sense of direction.”

Emma Winstead, freshman hospitality management major, also took a campus tour before deciding to come to Kent State.

“I thought it was very informative,” she said.

Winstead, who is from New York, added that she was glad her parents were with her during the tour.

“Especially since I’m out of state, I’m glad they were able to see the campus at the same time I was,” she said. “It was an important time for all of us.”

Contact features reporter Abby Fisher at [email protected].