Cedarville University Introduces Virtual Tours for Prospective Students

Feature Image by Scott Huck

by Tim Miller

The Cedarville University divisions of Enrollment Management and Marketing and Communications rolled out virtual campus visits last week in light of the unprecedented changes amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. With Cedarville completely shifting learning to online and a focus on reduced travel and contact with others, these tours are a way for students to get a feel for campus while staying safe at home.

The visits begin each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:30 a.m. with a live presentation by a member in the admissions office, usually either Vice President of Enrollment Management Dr. Scott Van Loo or Director of Undergraduate Admissions Matthew Dearden.

Then, just like a traditional on-campus visit, students have the choice to plan their day by attending a class (watching a recorded Bible minor class), taking a virtual tour, or meeting face-to-face with a counselor (via Zoom) when they register for the visit. Dearden said academic departments are also standing by to meet with students who are interested in their field.

“We knew we needed to figure out a way that students could see what’s happening on this campus, aside from looking on the website or making a phone call,” Dearden said. “While it won’t be equivalent to physically visiting campus, we think it can still provide students with a valuable experience.”

Abigail Colvin, assistant director of Admissions for Guest Services at Cedarville, said the visits also offer a unique advantage for international students. She said the university is working on adding captions for visits and that these tours will likely last permanently for these students, as it can be harder to travel to Cedarville for visits due to financial or travel restrictions.

Colvin said on-campus visits tend to be important for a student’s college decision. For the fall 2019 class, 737 of the 995 students (74%) took part in an on-campus visit before enrolling at Cedarville. For the fall 2018 class, 691 of the 911 students (76%) came to campus for a visit before becoming Yellow Jackets.

While it’s far too early to tell how effective the virtual visits will be, Colvin said she hopes the virtual tours will yield similar results.

Colvin said there wasn’t a lot of work to do to set this up, other than logistical ins and outs. Most of the videos viewers can watch were already produced, which took a lot of work out of it. She said the ability to use Zoom to communicate with members of other departments was crucial as they worked together.

“There were a lot more hands in it than a regular campus visit, which took some getting used to,” Colvin said. “It’s also hard to communicate with so many people when you’re not working in the same space as them, so that presented a challenge as well. It was helpful when we were on the same page.”

Dearden said he wants to continue to cater to prospective students and show that even now, Cedarville is in strong standing and can back up students that commit to the school.

“Our main focus right now is keeping those students that have already shown interest and making sure they know we’re still behind them and can still support them,” Dearden said.

Even if you aren’t a student, Dearden said users are still welcome to view a virtual tour to see what it’s like. Colvin said although during implementation there were many issues to tackle, she was thankful for the Marketing and Communications department and how easy it was to work together.

“I think we are creating a system that will benefit us in the future,” Colvin said. “I don’t think this is just a short-term solution. I see the benefit of us making this available even when we’re able to go back to regular campus visits.”

Tim Miller is a senior Marketing major, editor-in-chief and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson. He also misses being on campus.

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