Student tour guides talk about their favorite part of their jobs

Mackenzie Freund, City Editor

Every so often, high school students can be seen walking around campus, whether it is for an open house day or just a scheduled tour.

Usually it is the prospective students walking around and getting to know the campus they may walk if they choose to come to Eastern.

The students that lead these prospective students are a mixture of debut leaders, from New Student Programs, or tour guides, from the admissions department.

While some may think they have similar roles on campus, they actually have different job descriptions.

Students are able to apply to work for either the New Student Programs as one of their workers, or they can apply to work in the admissions office as a tour guide.

Derek Pierce, a sophomore finance and accounting major, said he got an email from the admissions office last fall asking him if he wanted to apply for the tour guide position.

Pierce said he got this connection after he started going back to his old high school in Mattoon so he could debunk the misconceptions about Eastern.

When he gives his tours, Pierce says he is not one to give out statistics to the prospective students because he would rather joke around with them and tell them real stories.

Pierce said he tries to make his tours more personal and less formal so the prospective students will feel more comfortable talking to him.

“I try to tell them stories about me falling down and walking backwards on tours,” Pierce said. “If it’s a tougher group, I’ll make jokes with them and say things like ‘if anyone’s interested I like long walks on the beach, romantic candlelight dinners,’ trying to get humor out of them.”

Pierce said he likes doing this because it makes them more comfortable while they are on the tour and they ask more questions, while also having a memorable time.

Zachary Samples, a graduate student in the Office of Admissions, said he was worked as the direct supervisor of campus tour guides for about three years, and he thinks the tour guides are rock stars.

“They go to work every single day with the hope that the work they do that day will positively impact our campus, and will work to be a piece of fixing the enrollment puzzle,” Samples said.

Samples said he tries to make sure that the tours are different from other schools.

“At most schools, you take a campus tour and the talking head tour guide just spews facts and figures,” Samples said. “We certainly do that too, but we then talk about what those facts and figures mean, how they impact the student experience, and then what makes EIU different than other schools.”

Samples said he also encourages the student tour guides to share their Eastern experience when they are giving their tours.

Pierce said his favorite part about giving the tours is seeing the excitement on the students faces when they are waiting for their tour, and also joking around with the parents and putting them at ease.

“One time we were talking about Career Services and I said ‘yeah hopefully at the end of four years the goal is to get a job, at least that’s what mom and dad want,’ and the parents are always shaking their head yes and the kids are always laughing hesitantly,” Pierce said.

Tour guides are usually the people giving tours during open house days, but there are some times where debut leaders from New Student Programs will help out if they are needed.

Debut leaders are usually in charge of helping students, whether freshman or transfer, make the transition to Eastern’s campus with as much information as possible.

Kimberlie Moock, director of New Student Programs, said that the debut leaders will help fill in the extra tour guide spots if admissions needs help during open house days.

“Because of the nature of their work, they are trained to do tours and help out in that way,” Moock said. “On open house days we do come out and help admissions and add to the tour guide ranks so we can have the smallest tour groups we can so that everybody has a good experience.”

If they are needed, debut leaders are chosen based on their class schedules and their general availability to give the 45 -minute tours.

Mallorie Mosely, a senior psychology major, has been a debut leader for about a year, and has had very positive experiences while she has given tours of the campus.

“Even with the crimes around here recently I’ve never had anybody ask ‘do you think eastern is going downhill’ or anything like that,” Mosely said.

Mosely said that even with the recent crimes, people still come here remembering that Eastern is ranked the safest campus in Illinois and the second safest in the country.


Mackenzie Freund can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]