The Importance of Bison Tour Guides

MIRANDA STAMBLER | THE SPECTRUM
Anne Johnson thinks Bison Guides should have school spirit that they want to share.

Every week on campus we see prospective students being guided around North Dakota State by the Bison Guides, an experience many students can relate to. Without Bison Guides, everyone’s knowledge of NDSU would be lacking, which could change someone’s future college choice.

Each semester there is the large event, Discover NDSU, that falls on the two days that all Minnesota and North Dakota schools are canceled due to teacher conferences. This leads to multiple tours being done, constantly throughout those two days, leaving less available parking space than usual.

This year’s fall Discover NDSU had a total of 1,916 people and 792 prospective students. This contributes to the total of students that have visited campus during the 2017-2018 school year. That total is currently at 7,637 prospective students and 16,341 total guests.

Campus tours are one of the most important factors in a prospective student’s application process, meaning that Bison Guides could be considered the most influential people on campus.

“The campus tour is almost always the most important deciding factor to a prospective student when they’re choosing where they want to go to college,” Anne Johnson, assistant director for campus visits, explained, “We know from survey data and from anecdotal information that having that on-campus experience and hearing from a current student is very influential.”

Through being a Bison Guide, they are able to meet people that later on tell them that they are the reason they chose NDSU.

There are two different types of guides. Student Tour and Recruitment Specialist (STARS) is the paid position where they have obligations to the admissions office and are able to give specialty tours for those who request them. A Bison Guide is a volunteer position where they are only obligated to show students around the campus.

Emily Kautzman, a senior majoring in construction management, started as a STAR about two years ago and has continued to also be a Bison Guide this past year.

Kautzman said she wanted to show people the university, why she fell in love with NDSU, the student life and things they accomplish if they choose NDSU.

Her favorite tour was one with a girl from New York who wanted to go into interior design. She felt like they bonded and that they were just hanging out while showing her around campus. She continues to wonder if she ended up attending NDSU.

Kylee Schmidt, a senior in the business administration program, has been a STAR for a year and a half. She described her favorite tours being the ones with alumni in the group. One tour had a father of a prospective student, who explained how he had made the ping pong table in Pavek Hall 35 years ago that was still in the building.

Dylan Diemer, a sophomore in the emergency management program, is a first-year Bison Guide. Because he is originally from California, he feels he has a story to share with students about why to come here for college.

“I didn’t grow up coming to Bison games. I didn’t grow up coming to different things at NDSU. I think being that I picked NDSU for their emergency management program and their active style and progressive learning, it did give me a very unique perspective on how campus works,” Diemer explained.

Although he hasn’t had as many tours as others, he still has stories upon stories. He laughed about being stuck in the tunnels since students wanted to see the underground workings of NDSU, and because he has access to the high rises, he saw no problem. But he then could not get out of the tunnels and had to take the fire exit.

Bison Guides explained how each tour is different because each guide gives a different perspective and personifies the tour in their own way by sharing stories and experiences.

“It’s really important to me that they share accurate information and that they know their facts, but I think it’s equally as important that they are personable and share their experience and what excites them,” Johnson said.

Diemer explained how when he chose NDSU his Bison Guide made the tour stand out compared to other universities by sharing personal stories.

President Dean Bresciani stays involved with the tour guides and makes sure to interact if he sees a tour on campus walking by. He tells tour guides to give his personal email to prospective students and prides himself in responding faster than other university presidents. Schmidt even tested it to see if he does respond, and he responded within an hour, then addressed it further the next day.

“President Dean Bresciani is working closely with our tour guides because he thinks our job is one of the most important of recruiting new students. We’re really like the first impression of campus to a lot of people,” Schmidt said.

Some guides prefer smaller groups while others enjoy the larger groups. A benefit to the smaller groups is being able to have a one-on-one with people and take them places on campus that apply to their field of study more.

Most importantly, everyone talks about tour guides skills of walking backward, but each guide spoke on how it isn’t as difficult as it seems. There’s an occasional misstep, but for the most part, they have campus memorized, except for those random wet floor signs. “Every good tour guide has ran into a wall or a garbage can at least once,” Kautzman said.

One of the most liked places among campus to show is the A. Glenn Hill Center, formerly known as the STEM building, since it is the future of NDSU. It is what most places will be transformed into, and it is interesting for students to see how progressive the campus is compared to others.

Another place spotlighted was the Aquatics Center. Kautzman said she enjoys showing the fireplace because she gets many “oo’s and ah’s.”

One agreed area was the walk from the Quentin Burdick Building to the Wellness Center and that stretch of area that seems to be the worst because there is not much to talk about in those areas.

Being a tour guide on campus gives students a confidence in public speaking and allows them to be quick on their feet with answering questions. “It’s really rewarding in the end because you get to actually influence people and their decision to come to NDSU and you learn so much about the campus,” Kautzman said.

Currently, there are 50 Bison Guides and 22 STAR Guides. The admissions office is always looking for additions, for more information visit: www.ndsu.edu/admission/tourguide

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