YORK, Pa. — Penn State students from across the commonwealth gathered for a two-day conference at University Park campus which, according to Brandon McDonald, the tour guide coordinator and host of the event, was the first of its kind for Penn State. The event was filled with group presentations and breakout sessions, where student tour guides and their advisers could connect over hot topics surrounding campus tours and student engagement.
“Before going on this trip, I knew very little about the people, community, and goals of the 19 other campuses that make up Penn State, but getting to speak with fellow students in this capacity was enlightening,” said Magnus Krissinger, a sophomore majoring in pharmacology and toxicology at Penn State York.
For some students, the summit was their first time visiting the University Park campus and meeting people from other campuses.
Jessica An, a first-year international student majoring in marketing said, “I had a wonderful time at the Tour Guide Summit where I got to meet new friends and explore University Park.”
McDonald shared, “I was excited to put together and host the Tour Guide Summit, as I think there is enormous value in sharing ideas and experiences especially when it comes to touring and recruitment. Penn State is all about learning from our community. In this case, a community of tour guides that can come together, bond, share stories, and build connections across the commonwealth really reinforces the institution’s idea of Penn State as one university, geographically dispersed.”
Some discussion group topics included:
- Tour guide recruitment and training
- Team building among club members
- Managing guest interactions
- Using social media to promote the club and campus
- Making a tour more personable
“We preach to our tour guides all the time that guests are not going to remember specific facts and hard dates, but they will remember the stories that you share and how you made them feel when visiting,” said McDonald. “My hope is that students who attended discovered how important they are to the college admissions process and learned new ways to engage prospective students and their supporters.”
According to Krissinger, the experience accomplished McDonald’s goal.
“Now that I understand how other campuses run their tours and the challenges they face, I feel confident that our club will be able to improve and we will be able to better serve our community, our students, and our wonderful staff and faculty,” said Krissinger.
With the summit having come to a close, McDonald is already planning for next year’s event.
“In the future, I hope the summit grows to include every campus and academic college across the commonwealth,” said McDonald. “Hopefully as this continues, we will be able to bridge gaps between programs, campuses and people to cultivate a more cohesive admissions recruitment and touring system that shares perspectives of diverse students from all of Penn State.”
The summit offered a chance for Penn State tour guides to learn from and connect with each other. Many expressed gratitude for the experience and anticipation for the next summit.
Krissinger said, “To the organizers of the 2023 tour guide summit, thank you. I cannot wait for next year!”
The Penn State York Lion Ambassadors are current students who promote the campus to prospective students, their parents, and the community. Besides being a part of the Student Government Association, the group works closely with the campus admissions office. Activities include campus tours, fundraisers and social events on behalf of the school. Members are expected to keep a 2.5 grade-point average (GPA).