Texas Tour Guides start online-only tour option for first time

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Public relations junior María Rodriguez conducted her first virtual campus tour after Texas Tour Guides recently incorporated an online option for prospective students.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maria Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

Texas Tour Guides will incorporate a completely online campus tour option for prospective students for the first time because of the pandemic.

Instead of roaming campus to get a feel for life at UT, prospective students can now join an hour-and-15-minute Zoom presentation summarizing what it’s like to be a UT student. Texas Tour Guides is a community of students that gives campus tours, volunteer guide María Rodriguez said.

Public relations junior Rodriguez said the guides use a PowerPoint presentation that includes pictures of buildings on campus as an outline for the virtual tour. 

“We encourage (prospective students) to introduce themselves, say where they're from and what they’re interested in because when they tell us what they’re interested in, we gear our tour around them … and we’re able to spend more time on that,” Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez said two to three other guides sit in chat support and answer questions during the tour. They also provide links to information, such as a list of residence halls, when appropriate. 

“The last 15 minutes is a student panel, so even chat support … will be on the call, and we’ll just wait for people to put in questions and we’ll just answer away,” Rodriguez said.

 

Tasha Anslyn, recruitment student coordinator for the guides program, said being able to physically stand on campus and feel the student energy during her tour was a huge part of her decision to come to UT.

“That’s a component you don’t get whenever you’re just watching a presentation,” said Anslyn, a neuroscience and speech, language and hearing sciences junior. “I don’t think it’s necessarily the content that changes at all in terms of the tours but rather the unspoken experience that you might lose out on.”

Alexandria Mitchell, director of prospective student experience, said the virtual tours have allowed many students who otherwise would not have been able to visit UT get the same experience. She said tour guides can now be involved in new events, such as high school tours with admission counselors. 

“We have more flexibility with the virtual (tours), but we also want to make sure that we’re still getting that connection,” Mitchell said. “So while we could allow them to offer (the tour to) the maximum 300 (students) … we are able to have virtual tours more often with smaller groups.”