This fall, prospective students have the opportunity to tour campus during the academic semester for the first time since March 2020.
Bruce Bunnick, director of admissions, said during the spring of 2021, admissions offered a limited number of tours solely to accepted students. They were conducted over a two-week period during the spring semester, prior to the decision deadline on May 1.
Additionally, in-person visits were held for interested students this summer.
Zachary Cotter, ‘22, trained to be a tour guide in the spring of 2020. Cotter led one in-person tour before Lehigh’s campus was shut down due to COVID-19. He conducted the rest of his tours that semester online.
Cotter said while he enjoyed leading a tour from the comfort of his room, virtual visits do not compare to the in-person experience.
“Being able to see people’s reactions going into Linderman (Library) and showing them the rotunda, their faces light up when they see it, and that is something we didn’t get to experience when we were online,” Cotter said.
Olivia Wood, ‘23, said it was difficult conducting virtual tours because she felt a disconnect with prospective students. She said it was a challenge to keep everybody’s energy up online.
Wood said giving tours in person this semester has been a more fun and immerseful experience.
“I was walking out of Rauch last week on my tour and I had two girls, I don’t know where they were going, and they screamed ‘Come to Lehigh,’” Wood said. “That is the best thing for a tour you could ever imagine because it is one thing for us to stand up there and say ‘We love Lehigh, come here, here are the statistics, we’ll talk about our classes.’ It is even better when they get to hear from random students.”
Cotter said with the university’s COVID-19 protocols currently in place, he feels safe giving tours. He said visitors are assigned a group number when signing in, allowing for proper contact tracing to take place if someone from a tour later reports that they tested positive.
Wood said the majority of visitors on her tours adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines. While masks were originally only required indoors, they are now also required outdoors when groups are unable to socially distance themselves.
Prior to the spike in COVID-19 cases, tours were allowed inside residential buildings, however tour guides are no longer allowed to take visitors to the showroom in Lower Cents, Wood said.
Bunnick said admissions intends to continue offering online tours.
“We will stress the in-person opportunities,” Bunnick said. “But we will continue with the virtual opportunities because it really has opened our eyes and provided an opportunity to reach even more students.”
Cotter said continuing to provide online tours offers accessibility to students who are unable to travel to campus prior to applying or receiving decisions.
Bunnick said to offer more touring opportunities for prospective students, admissions will hold one tour every Saturday this fall, whether or not Lehigh’s football team is playing at home.
This is different from how the office has operated in past years, as it would close when Lehigh played at home, Bunnick said.
Cotter said he and the other tour guides are happy to be back on campus to not only give in-person tours, but to also interact with each other in person.
“The collaboration among the tour guides is what we were longing for,” Cotter said. “Being able to express that to our tour groups is something that we are all super excited to do.”