Admissions office making tour guide changes

By Stephanie Steinbrecher ‘16Staff Writer

After much consideration, the Admission Ambassador Team (AAT) and the Office of Admission have decided to implement significantly different changes to the student tour guides program that will go into effect in fall 2013.

“We researched many institutions that were making similar changes to their Tour Guide program and experiencing a lot of success from it, including our neighbor CMC who made this same change this past fall,” said AAT On-Campus Events Coordinator Vaishali Ravi ’15. “We wanted to make the tour guide group a more tight-knit community and give them the honor and prestige that position deserves on campus.”

“This change was not at all prompted by any particular incident with our current guides,” added Ravi. “We hope to create a more standard tour so that all prospective students will be exposed to the same general information.”

The current tour guide program is open to all Scripps students and is largely volunteer-based. Interested students attend an orientation and training session, shadow tours with a tour guide for a semester, and then become full-fledged guides the following semester.

“We currently have 39 lead tour guides and 14 additional shadows for the spring 2013 semester. We have about another 15 tour guides who are abroad this semester but have been committed tour guides in the past. In total, we have about 75 volunteers who have helped with our tours during the 2012-2013 school year,” said AAT Tour Guide and Overnight Hostess Coordinator Madeleine Wills ’15. As it currently stands, any student may be a guide after completing these steps and leading once per week.

Current guides are compensated in a points-system; after reaching fifty points, guides are given $10 gift cards to Amazon or Target. Each tour led is worth five points, meaning most guides are not motivated to get involved for the financial incentives.

“It was important to us for our tour guides to be paid. After all, they are often the first impression that prospective students and families have of campus and we want to recognize the important role they play,” said Assistant Director of Admission Jessica Johnston.

Admissions is motivated by practical reasons to change the program as well. “We determined that it was best to move to a more stream-lined corps of tour guides. This way, we are able to provide more training and meet regularly to support our tour guides. It’s a more manageable group for us: nearly 10% of the whole student body was volunteering to be tour guides! That’s a lot to handle,” said Johnston.

“We do not have a huge budget so after careful planning, we concluded that we could only afford to pay 15 guides,” said Ravi. These 15 guides will give two tours a week rather than one. Given that so many students are currently involved in the program and only 15 students will serve as guides next semester, the application process is rigorous. The new positions will be open to all Scripps students, not only previous guides. Applications are due March 25, group interviews take place from April 1-4, individual interview notifications will be sent out April 5, mock tours with Johnston will be from April 16-19, and final notification will be sent to all candidates on April 23. Other jobs with AAT are also available, including Outreach Coordinator, Tour Guide and Overnight Hostess Coordinator, On-Campus Events Coordinator, and Communications Intern.

“We are looking for a wide range of Scripps experiences so that prospective students can get a more holistic taste of Scripps. We are looking for passionate, dedicated, multi-faceted ladies with great communication skills,” said Ravi.

In this new system, fewer students will be able to represent the college in the Office of Admissions. Yet, the few who do get chosen will be a part of a more uniform, official process. Which system better reflects the mission of the college, the aim of Admissions, the interest of current students, and the benefits of the prospective students will remain to be seen as the new system replaces the old in the fall.