With the class of 2020 receiving acceptance letters from Allegheny College, the admissions office has continued preparing current students to represent the college to prospective students.
“There’s no better ambassador about how amazing Allegheny is than the current students,” said Cornell LeSane, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions.
According to Jason Andracki, senior assistant director of admissions, current students serve as tour guides—known as Gator Guides—as well as overnight hosts for prospective students and panelists at open houses. Andracki said Gator Guides are paid positions, while other roles with admissions are filled by student volunteers.
Allegheny employs students in similar ways to other liberal arts schools and colleges in the region.
Sarah Burns, assistant director of admissions at Ohio Wesleyan University, said tour guides at Ohio Wesleyan are paid, while students who host prospective students overnight or visit their former high schools as ambassadors for the school are volunteers.
At the Behrend Campus of Pennsylvania State University, Andrew Konkol, associate director of admissions, said its tour guides, known as Lion Scouts, had to complete a rigorous application process that included essays and letters of recommendation before being employed.
The application for Gator Guides, available on the Allegheny website, requires six short essays and a faculty reference. Andracki said Gator Guides, in addition to providing tours, call prospective students during two required shifts per semester.
Andracki said Gator Guides allow prospective students to see an accurate reflection of campus life.
“In terms of how you talk about your relationship with the faculty, what you say about the comp, we rely on [students] to tell their stories,” Andracki said. “It’s not going to be helpful, it’s not going to be authentic, if people are just feeding the company line.”
Overnight hosts also play a role in the admissions process. According to Andracki, current students sign up to host prospective students during open houses and for individual visits.
Victoria Pless, an admissions counselor and overnight visit coordinator at Allegheny, said students generally sign up to host one prospective student, but some hosts can have two or more.
LeSane said more students are signing up to be overnight hosts than in previous years. He also said students are becoming more involved in the admissions process.
“In many cases, we get students lining up to say, ‘How can I help? How can I talk about this special place that is Allegheny,’” LeSane said.
Andracki emphasized the effectiveness of using current students to speak with prospective students.
“The standard panel question that comes up is ‘Why did you ultimately choose Allegheny?’” Andracki said. “And a lot of times, we hear, ‘It was this tour guide, or my host. I was made to feel welcome and feel like I was going to be part of a community here.’”
Current students recognize the helpfulness of students working in admissions.
“[My overnight host] was great and showed me around the campus and made me realize how nice everyone here was,” said Michaela Schlichtkrull, ’19. “We still keep in contact today and she answered any concerns that I had at the time.”
Andracki said while the role of students in admissions has remained similar since he started in 1999, the college looks for ways to showcase current students in the admissions process. LeSane said a newer role of students presented itself in recent years.
“Social media would be the newest way we’re utilizing some of our students,” LeSane said.
Admissions Intern Rebecca Fox, ’16, said she and another student are creating Twitter and Instagram accounts solely for the admissions office, in addition to the use of class Facebook pages, under the supervision of an admissions counselor.
Fox said the role of students, both via social media and in person, is beneficial for providing a more intimate view of Allegheny.
“There’s something very personable in…talking to someone on campus and learning about their experiences,” Fox said.
Andracki said social media presence is just one way to represent the college to prospective students.
“Our students are often the first face that our prospective students meet from Allegheny,” said Andracki. “We always want to make a good first impression, and our students do that.”