By James Leeper
When a prospective student is visiting campus, Oklahoma Christian University surrounds them with people to make a warm first impression and help them feel at home. Among these people are admissions counselors, Welcome Center staff and tour guides.
“Tour guides need to be outgoing, willing to keep talking even when the visiting family may not always respond, and friendly to everyone they encounter on campus,” Sadie Rosenthal, an Oklahoma Christian admissions counselor, said. “Our prospective families enjoy knowing that their students will be more than just a face on campus. The best tour guides are the ones that go out of their way to say hi to people passing by their tour, or stop for a moment and introduce a professor to a visiting family.”
Being a tour guide at Oklahoma Christian requires students to take time out of their day to show families what day-to-day life looks like on campus. According to tour guide Jake Whiteley, being a tour guide is a rewarding experience.
“The best part about being a tour guide is making new connections with all sorts of people, and then knowing that you had an impact on a student making their decision about college,” Whiteley said. “The most rewarding part about this job is when I get to see students that I gave tours to eventually on campus as freshmen at OC making the same memories I was able to make.”
Although tours do not always go as planned, tour guide Erin Hairston said it is the tour guide’s job to always project a friendly attitude.
“I feel like as a student tour guide, we are held to a higher standard,” Erin Hairston, a tour guide, said. “It is known that tour guides love OC and we respect it in our lives outside of work.”
Tour guides give tours to a variety of prospective students each day, including some with intimidating families.
“I think the craziest thing that has ever happened to me was giving a tour to a girl whose dad was on the board of trustees at Harding,” Whiteley said. “I’ve never felt more nervous or more pressure than that specific tour. I just knew if I messed up or said something wrong, then we lost her as a potential student.”
According to Hairston, tour guides sometimes run into embarrassing situations while giving tours.
“One time, we were in the gym and I was showing them the pool and when I opened the door, Tealridge was having a water pilates class,” Hairston said. “The people on my tour just started laughing and as we backed away I said, ‘Oh my goodness I am so sorry.’ We laughed the rest of the tour.”
Q& A with Sadie Rosenthal, Jake Whiteley, and Erin Hairston
Q: Why should students want to be tour guides?
Sadie: Students should want to be tour guides because it helps to perfect so many great skills to bring with you into the workforce. Even if you are an engineer or an accountant, you will have to talk to people at some point. Being a tour guide gives you so many opportunities to learn how to better communicate and facilitate positive encounters with people.
Jake: If you want the chance to play a small role in someone making a decision about their future, be a tour guide. It’s only 45 minutes, but sometimes it’s the 45 minutes that matter the most in a student’s decision. For 45 minutes you get to brag about why you chose OC, and why you’re still as in love with the school as you were when you first stepped on to campus as a freshman.
Erin: Being a tour guide is a great way to feel connected to campus and to those in charge of us, like President deSteiguer. You get paid to walk around campus, tell stories and show people what you love about OC.
Q: Why is the role of being a tour guide so important?
Jake: My job as a tour guide is important because I’m sometimes the only direct impression that a potential student has with an OC student. For 45 minutes, everything that I say and do makes some sort of impression about this school. There are days that I know that I represent all 2,500 members of OC’s student body. I represent the faculty, staff, the board, the students, the clubs, the academic departments, the athletic program — everything.
Erin: We represent the students of OC. We have one hour to show prospective students what it is like to be a current student here at OC, and that is an important aspect of being in college.