Student tour groups return to Ramapo with new vision and mandates

Photo courtesy of Grace Velarde.

A key part of convincing high schoolers to apply to Ramapo College is introducing them to life on campus. This includes showcasing some of the beautiful scenery, convenient locations of the academic buildings and the overall welcoming atmosphere everyone feels as soon as they exit their cars. Unfortunately, the pandemic drastically altered student tour guides’ ability to work, and now as the campus reopens they find their routines still have not fully returned to normal.

Senior Grace Velarde has worked as a student tour guide since her freshman year. She recalled how her job description was transformed due to Covid. “Attending open houses and watching online videos are not the same as attending interactive events on campus,” she said. “It was a challenging time for prospective families as well as for us ambassadors as we were trying to stand out from the other universities and trying to be as warm and inviting as possible.”

Ramapo recently hosted the first in-person open house since the pandemic began. Tours are becoming more frequent, but senior Shugar Hall said the transition is ongoing. “Before, the tours used to run a lot longer and they’re slowly getting back to that point. When the pandemic hit, tours were limited to three days a week and two shifts, and now they’re six days a week with two shifts and I think pre-pandemic they were three shifts a day with six days a week,” they said.

Sizable tour groups prove applicants will not be intimidated by visiting the campus they may soon reside on. 

“It depends on the day, but we usually cap out at about 60 guests,” Hall said. “Usually that’ll be 40 students with everyone having one to two guests.”

These numbers sound intimidating, but neither Velarde nor Hall have encountered much difficulty enforcing Covid restrictions while giving tours. The tours are mostly held outdoors, and masks only need to be worn when entering buildings. It seems visitors understand that by entering the campus, they are subject to the rules the rest of the Ramapo community follows.

These prospective students and their parents come with unique inquiries influenced by the past two years. 

Some questions include how residential life is, what events are being held on weekends and if it gets lonely on campus, how many people are living on campus versus commuting, when classes will become all in-person again like pre pandemic times, and about the indoors mask mandate,” Velarde said.

According to Hall, another focus is on the vaccine mandate. With so many colleges varying in what students are required to do, it is natural for parents and applicants to ask for clarification on Ramapo’s guidelines. 

Now that they are back in-person, student tour guides are relishing the opportunity to tie their personal interests into their work. Hall, a visual arts major, loves to show tour groups the place that is dear to their heart. 

“I really like when students are interested in the [Visual Arts] building, because of the fact that we don’t really go in it super often. We usually just walk past it, but when families are interested, especially if it’s a mostly VA group, it’s fun to just go through the building and show everyone everything,” they said.

Velarde and Hall are excited to resume their jobs and encourage anyone who may be interested in the position to apply. 

You get to give incoming freshmen or transfer students the feeling you got when visiting Ramapo. It is a great resume builder as well as a great way to make friends and connections,” Velarde said.

For those who are considering giving the work a chance, Hall offered some concluding wisdom: “Get a really nice pair of shoes, because working a double shift is fine until your feet start hurting, and then you’re like ‘Wait, I’m walking for another 45 minutes.’”