Prospective students view campus virtually and in-person
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Prospective students view campus virtually and in-person

In March, USD first shut down due to COVID-19 and virtual college tours became the only way potential students had an opportunity to visit the university. The virtual college visits are still available today, though in-person college visits resumed on Aug. 3.

Ethan Young, a junior nursing major, has been a student ambassador for a year and a half, serving as president since last December. At the beginning of virtual college visits, Young worked with other student ambassadors to create presentations about life at USD.

The student ambassadors also created virtual student panels where prospective students could submit questions and get them answered in real time. 

“We were able to do a lot of the same objectives that we would do when we have prospective students visiting campus,” Young said. “We try to give students a feel for USD and what it’s like.” 

Young said one of the challenges of the virtual college visits was the lack of personal connection that comes from seeing someone face-to-face.

In-person campus visits used to consist of two student ambassadors and as many as 15 people on a tour, including students and parents. However, due to COVID-19 precautions, only one student ambassador is allowed to a single family.

Young said the current in-person campus visits have their benefits because the tours are able to be more individualized since it’s one ambassador to one prospective student. 

“We can try to pair a prospective student with an ambassador who is in the same major that the student is interested in,” Young said. “We can individualize the tours by the prospective students interests at USD.” 

Safety precautions for in-person visits include required masks and Plexiglas between the front and back seats of the Charlie carts. In addition, Coyote Village is unable to be shown to prospective students due to the lack of a show room available.

“Other than that, things are pretty much back to normal,” Young said. “All things considered; I think it’s almost better than it was a year ago.”

Mark Petty, dean of enrollment, said the demand is there for students wanting to come and look at colleges in person and find out what USD is all about. 

“Our goal for our visit strategy this fall was to offer visit opportunities where we will see roughly about the same number of students that would’ve come to a traditional fall open house spread over several visit days,” Petty said. 

In addition to tours, Coyote visit days are being offered to prospective students where 28 students and their parents or guests are able to meet in the MUC ballroom for a visit session, Petty said.

Saturday morning visits are also beginning again. Tours are being offered along with a meeting in Farber Hall where an admissions counselor speaks to a group of prospective students and their families. 

“Prospective students will be able to see all of our visit opportunities at for this fall,” Petty said. “Our winter and spring dates will be posted by the end of the semester so students can sign up for visits moving forward.”