Every spring, hundreds of prospective college students flock to UC Riverside for a tour of the campus to help them decide where to go that fall.
With on-campus tours no longer possible, UCR is offering an online alternative. Last month, its team of student tour guides began offering Zoom meetings for high school and transfer students wanting to know more about the campus.
The goal is to provide students and their families a chance to connect with current students and answer their questions, said Cindy Flores, visitor relations manager with Undergraduate Admissions, who oversees campus tours.
In a typical April, the busiest month for tours, the campus gets between 300-500 visitors a day, she said.
When the campus closed March 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the office began exploring alternative options for those students.
Students who had already made tour reservations for April were invited to schedule an hour-long webinar as part of the pilot program. Over the course of a month, more than 60 participants joined the webinars.
The office has 30 student tour guides offering the online webinars, Flores said. Each webinar is limited to a small number of participants, so they can dialogue easily with the tour guide.
The tour guides, chatting from home, provide the same type of overview of UC Riverside’s history, academic offerings, and campus amenities they would in a regular tour.
“We try to structure our conversation very similarly,” said Dianna Caal-Requena `20, a campus tour guide. “We try to get personal with people and let them have a conversation with a student because that’s what they want.”
A fourth-year student studying business administration, Caal-Requena has been a tour guide since her first year on campus.
During recent webinars, she asked prospective students about their academic and extracurricular interests. She tailored her conversation to them, talking about her experience studying business administration to a student who expressed a similar interest. For a student interested in microbiology, Caal-Requena described the different degree options available.
Throughout the webinars, she encouraged them to ask questions and provided links to websites and email addresses for different resources in the Zoom chat box.
The office is also offering a specialized webinar featuring engineering students with a PowerPoint presentation about the laboratories at the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering.
Flores said the student tour guides are a great resource for incoming students since they can directly relate to what they will be going through.
“They’re really passionate about UCR, and it really shows,” Flores said. “The students really do walk away with a greater understanding of what UCR has to offer.”
For more information about the program go here.