By: Reed Silvers, For the Clock
All college students can recall the stress of the university decision process. However, only the high school class of 2021 can attest to the challenge of picking a school during a global pandemic. At Plymouth State University, the admissions department has done its part to ensure potential future panthers are getting a good feel for the school despite these uncertain times.
The admissions team, a department that normally flourishes on in-person connection and large gatherings of out-of-state visitors, has had a particularly challenging job in creating a safe alternative to business as usual. Nevertheless, the team has adapted well by creating safe, sanitary, yet informative ways to show off the campus.
The most notable change has been restricting tours to one family at a time. While this approach is not what tour guides are used to, Dani Blondin, the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, believes it helps create more personally tailored visits for prospective students. The one-on-one experience truly allows for the school to deliver on their promise to focus on the students as individuals. “Our tour guides are empowered to tweak their tour routes as they see fit to accommodate the needs and interests of whomever they are touring…”Blondin stressed.
However, only individual tours leave the department missing its large group events. Normally, the entire admissions staff greets hundreds of eager students and families looking to learn more about the panther experience. As Blondin laments, “the feeling of togetherness is a big loss for all of us.” To compensate for this, the department has created “Sa-tour-day” on Saturday, November 14th. This is a full day of “round-robin tours” involving multiple families. While it’s impossible to re-create the feeling of a pre-pandemic admissions event, Blondin is looking forward to experiencing some more “collective ‘together’ energy.”
For all tours, safety precautions are abundant. Before families even step foot on campus, they answer “no” to multiple Covid-19 related screening questions from their car. When the tour guides arrive, introductions of a socially distanced, masked smile and wave suffice for a greeting. The tour route stays 100% outside. For the most part, visiting families have followed protocol perfectly. With limited options at many other institutions, everyone is happy to have the opportunity to simply be on campus. Blondin adds, “visiting families seem to really value and appreciate the safety precautions put in place to protect our current Panthers, as that is the exact kind of environment that they seek and expect for their own students…”
It is these diligent precautions that have allowed the campus community to have a successful first semester of in-person classes and activities. PSU’s strategic handling of the pandemic bodes well for the attraction of high school seniors when they make their college decisions this spring. Until then, all prospective panthers can feel safe and welcome when visiting our community.