Some COVID-19 restrictions still in place as Duke admissions revert to student-led in-person visits
Prospective Duke students can once again attend in-person campus tours, but the restrictions have yet to be fully lifted.
Devan Wainright, a junior and student tour guide, is excited to see families returning to campus after the difficult year the admissions office has had. “It’s what we all live for,” Wainright said.
Throughout the transition to in-person tours, Duke has kept certain policies in place to limit the risks of COVID-19 transmission between visitors and the college community. Registration for in-person tours is currently only open to high school students and each registered student is only entitled to one guest. The admissions office cannot request immunization status as part of registration.
In addition, groups of tourists are explicitly advised not to enter the buildings. Masks are compulsory for the duration of the visit.
“We are using Duke’s standards that have been put in place for general student participation,” said Wainright.
Wainright spearheaded many responsibilities over the past year in transitioning to the Virtual Admissions Office Tour experience, which allowed families to continue to experience Duke from home.
“We make it our goal for our tour guides to be good storytellers,” said Wainright. “So that’s what we were looking for in the presentation of the virtual form.”
Online visits show a high turnout
Duke’s online visit experience will continue to be a resource for prospective students and parents in the future. The virtual option reached more students than the in-person tours; Wainright said virtual tours have higher attendance than ever from international students. The high participation rate offers a potential explanation for the 25% increase in the number of applications between 2020 and 2021.
But many current students admit that the virtual experience doesn’t quite sum up the reality of what student life entails.
“As someone who has toured in person and online, I respect their efforts to make the virtual experience representative of Duke,” said Karam Bambawale, first year, “but I don’t think so. that it really did him justice; I have so much more to live on campus than online.
Tour guides provide an element of life and personality to the first impressions of others on the Duke campus, which most excited Wainright about his position which he hopes others will do as well.
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“We are recruiting the new class of tour guides, which is 2025 and 2024, and in some cases 2023,” Wainright said.
After more than a year of missed opportunities to recruit new guides, more places than ever are up for grabs.
“That’s why we’re doing this, isn’t it?” Said Wainright. “You hear people coming here because there is nothing to hide.”