The University has started providing campus tours to prospective students again, with changes made to comply with campus modifications this semester.
“Some of these modifications include smaller tour sizes to allow for proper social distancing, the requirement of masks for the duration of the tour and a more expedient check-in to limit time inside of the Boilermaker Station Welcome Center,” said Todd Iler, senior assistant director of the Office of Admissions.
He also said the tours don’t go through campus buildings, but rather will take place entirely outside. All guests are required to read and acknowledge the Protect Purdue Pledge to participate in tours. Additionally, he said no physical souvenirs will be given to visitors as in years past.
October is generally a busy month for tours, according to Iler, and this year seems to be no different. However, with tours starting on Oct. 12, he said it’s too early to make any judgment on the rest of the year.
Alanna Nash, a freshman in first-year engineering, reflected on her time touring Purdue before her senior year of high school, adding that the experience helped her decide to commit to Purdue.
“Having the tours return to campus worries me no more than students going home on the weekend,” she said. “I think that as long as the people coming to tour are respectful of Protect Purdue and follow our guidelines, I am not concerned about it being a huge factor of spreading COVID-19 on campus.”
On the other hand, Sabrina Hinojosa, a freshman in the College of Science, said she is concerned about the tours restarting.
“I feel we took enough precautions as students to be able to attend and that the same should be done with the influx of visitors Purdue receives on a day-to-day basis,” Hinojosa said. “Tours are important ... but ultimately I made my decision without doing a tour, and I love it. I think extensive research on the University in conjunction with virtual tours would suffice just until COVID-19 can be handled.”
Other students, such as Ian Kraft, a freshman in first-year engineering, said it is important for Purdue to offer tours and weren’t very concerned about tours restarting.
“I do think tours are important for helping kids in their college choice. In my case, because of the pandemic outbreak, I only had the chance to physically visit one of the three schools I was considering,” Kraft said. “Purdue has made and enforced many rules for COVID-19, and from the few tours I have witnessed, all of the visitors seem to follow the rules and stay cautious.”
Alexandria Shinkan, a student co-director for campus tours, said the tours used to last around three hours and be made up of three parts: an academic tour, a presentation with an admissions counselor and a student life tour. She said this year’s tours have been reduced to last one hour.
“We have also added a virtual tour as well for the families that are unable to attend campus,” Shinkan said.
She said has been a tour guide for a year, and found that she was still able to connect with families after the tour despite added barriers of masks and distancing.
“All of (the visitors) stayed a few minutes after my tour to ask me questions, and I could tell they had a great time,” she said. “The masks just make it difficult to see facial expressions, and I tell some jokes or puns on my tour, so it was hard to see if they actually laughed or smiled at them.”
Shinkan said tours have restored some clarity to the ambiguity of the semester.
“I know there were some uncertainties on how tours would go this year,” Shinkan added, “but I think they are going extremely well. In a time of uncertainty, it’s nice to have something that feels normal again.”