No tours, no problem: Virtual tour helps prospective students explore Rider

By Jason Mount

College campus tours could be the deciding factor for a high school student when choosing where to pursue higher learning, which is why Rider’s Office of Admissions has adapted to current circumstances by offering virtual tours.

As decision day approaches for prospective students, Rider has included a virtual tour of its campus on their website for families to explore the facilities without risking quarantine. The site welcomes interested individuals with a message to inform them about navigating the tour, saying “it’s like you’re a Rider Bronc already.”

There are several links to different areas on campus, each leading to a different page with a video of that specific location. Sections including Daly Dining Hall, residence halls, academic buildings, the Student Recreation Center and the Bart Luedeke Center.

Senior acting major and tour guide Anna Meyer said that the virtual tour on Rider’s website is not the only option prospective students have when they try to explore what the university has to offer. She said that tour guides offer online alternatives to help answer questions as well as provide more insight about the buildings.

“There are several group chats with tour guides and prospective students,” Meyer said. “While this isn’t the best option, it is one way for students to ask questions. Another thing we are doing is hosting Facebook lives to get them familiar with certain things on campus, such as orientation. We are also making ‘Why Rider’ videos as well to post.”

Senior theater major and tour guide Anna Meyer explained that Facebook live videos and “Why Rider” videos from current students are just some of the methods being used to help garner interest in the university. Photo courtesy of Anna Meyer.

The “Why Rider” videos are recorded by current students and alumni to share their stories about why they chose to attend Rider, said Meyer. 

Meyer said that all of the posts and videos are being shared on various social media platforms to encourage questions from interested students, yet she feels that an online tour may not have the same benefits as a physical one.

“I can’t say this makes up for visiting, and I fear that a lot of people will transfer in the fall because there is no way to really see a campus virtually,” she said.

Even though there is currently no physical option to see campus, Meyer believes that the videos shown in the virtual tour will help give students an idea of what the facilities look like.

“It still allows you to see the campus,” Meyer said. “Not to mention that the filming is very crisp and clean so it allows you to actually see things. I do appreciate that it shows the dorms. We didn’t have this when I was looking at Rider and a big drawback for me was that I had no idea what the dorms looked until I came. The videos help with that.”

Another tour guide, junior elementary education major Amelia Vallecilla, pointed out that the virtual tour is a good alternative for students who are too nervous to ask questions in person, and that the process is expedited in the online format

“I think [the virtual tour] helps the shy students, the ones who feel pressured to ask questions or talk,” Vallecilla said. “I think it allows them to see what they want to see. They aren’t stuck on a tour for 45 minutes to an hour, instead, they can spend one to 30 minutes on the website and get a general idea about the school.”

Vallecilla believed the online alternative is good to have in the situation of a pandemic, but that the tour could be expanded upon with the use of tour guides.

“Honestly, I think it’s great that Rider is offering students a chance to explore the campus from home,” she said. “I think if they really wanted to reel in prospective students, this is something that had to be put into effect. I think it would be cool too if they got some of the tour guides to be actually giving tours through Zoom.”

While the tour staff has come up with several ways to help garner interest in the university, Meyer is unsure of how effective the methods are.

“I’m unsure how receptive the students are,” said Meyer. “We haven’t posted a lot about the virtual tour, truthfully… I’m in two group chats and I get very little interaction. My partner and I try to set up questions to get them engaged but it’s hard for sure.”

Despite the rapidly changing circumstances brought on by the coronavirus, Rider found a way to still be available to prospective students, and to help integrate them into the Bronc community.

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