When students are on campus, they often see groups of high school students and their parents carrying red plastic bags with Double Ts. President’s Select has been giving tours to prospective Tech students for decades, and, like most organizations, has had to make adjustments to this program due to COVID-19.
Montana Chandler, a senior history major from Ralls and president of President’s Select, said the organization serves as the university’s recruiting system, or ambassadors. It is their duty to recruit students to come to Tech.
Campus tours have been given since Tech first opened, and it was traditionally the Saddle Tramps’ job to provide the tours, Chandler said. Since then, the job has transitioned into more of a larger-scale effort from different offices of the university.
“The primary offices that we do that through are the Office of the President, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Texas Tech Athletics,” she said. “So those are our three primary forms of recruitment. The most well-known ones that people know us for are the daily tours where we have our visitors with red bags and our tour guides walking backwards; kind of a staple image that people think about when you think about President’s Select.”
Mason Leachman, a senior Russian language and area studies and public relations major from Albuquerque and vice president of President’s Select, said campus tours resumed on Sept. 21.
There are several safety measures in place to make sure the tour guides and visitors who come to campus are protected, Leachman said. These precautions include requiring tour guides and visitors to wear face masks at all times.
“While they’re actually giving the tour, since they’re yelling, we do require them to wear a face shield as well since that’s not a very effective way to kind of project your voice,” Leachman said. “We also have microphones on them – they’re called chatterboxes – and people will probably be hearing them all around campus just because they’re so loud now.”
Additionally, Leachman said there is a limited number of guests allowed to come to campus. The number of people who can be seated in the presentation room for the pre-tour admissions presentation is also limited.
Each prospective student who comes to visit is allowed to have one guest with them during the pre-tour presentation. After the presentation, visitors are allowed to bring the rest of their family on the tour, Leachman said. Each group also completes a pre-tour temperature check and COVID-19 symptom screening via QR code.
“We tried to implement measures that really keep the tour experience fun and exciting; everybody’s excited to come see a college when they’re interested in applying to (the) university,” Leachman said. “And so, keeping it fun and exciting for our guides as well. They really did miss giving tours over the summer and then kind of the end of spring, so this is kind of a way that we can have the best of both worlds.”
While the number of people who can sign up for tours has been limited, Leachman said there now is an additional time visitors can sign up to tour the campus. Before the pandemic, there only was a 9:15 a.m. tour and a 11:15 a.m. tour. Now, a 2:15 p.m. tour has been added to the schedule.
“So, we’re still able to see a large volume of people, but now we do make them sign up, and we do cap registration at a certain point,” Leachman said.
Maky Haynes, a junior honors science and humanities and communication studies major from Shallowater and treasurer and recruitment officer for President’s Select, said the tour route is slightly smaller because the groups do not go into the buildings, like the College of Media & Communication or the Rec.
From a tour guide standpoint, Haynes said she would rather give a tour with a mask and microphone than not give a tour at all.
“You’re still getting to hang out with the students, make those meaningful connections with the groups being a little smaller. I think that’s actually a fun benefit of this tour drifting a little bit smaller is getting to have those connections, but overall it really hasn’t changed that much,” she said. “We’re still getting to do our job and hang out with future Red Raiders …. We just have a few layers of protection in between us.”
Applications for President’s Select will open in January or February, Haynes said. Interested students may email firstname.lastname@example.org to get their name put on a list. Once the list is complete, Haynes will reach out to them for recruitment events.
Recruitment for President’s Select may look different this year, with many events going online or conducted over Zoom, Haynes said. Students have to go through a three-round interview process and six weeks of training before they are officially members.
“We haven’t quite decided how many students we are bringing in next class. It’s just how many people are excited to be part of President’s Select and seem like they would add to our team, but I don’t think we’re going to cut down on any of our numbers due to COVID,” Haynes said.
President’s Select trained their last member class via Zoom, Haynes said. If COVID-19 continues training will stay online.
“We are still super excited, and we still want a ton of people to apply because more people that apply, the bigger our tour guide organization can be, “Haynes said.