Since the postponement of in-person admissions events in early 2020, prospective Cornell students could only get a glimpse of campus through virtual tours and Zoom information sessions or unofficial tours done by friends. But as of Friday, Oct. 15 the tradition of in-person fall campus tours resumed.
Nico Modesti ’21 — who has been a tour guide for three years — is excited to interact with prospective students in person again.
“You never know who you’re going to meet on a tour, where they’re coming from and what stories they have,” Modesti said. “Getting to connect with visitors is the reason why the job is different every single day, and I love it so much.”
Charlie Mueller ’24 and Tia Taylor ’25, two students who are not tour guides, feel comfortable with tours resuming as long as visitors maintain physical distance from students and wear masks indoors.
A recruited track athlete, Taylor was frustrated at not being able to speak to coaches and athletes in-person when she applied to Cornell last fall. She supports the University’s decision to resume campus tours, as she does not want current prospective students to share that challenge.
Although in-person admissions events will resume, the Office of Visitor Relations will continue to hold virtual information sessions, video tours and livestream campus tours.
“Livestream virtual tours have been quite successful,” Taiya Luce, the director of visitor relations, wrote in an email to The Sun. “Our office has been able to reach an audience who may not have had the means to travel to Ithaca either due to logistics or economical reasons.”
Modesti mentioned that the Zoom chat feature made it easier for prospective students, who may be nervous to ask questions in-person, to ask questions. He felt that virtual tours empowered students to learn more about the University.
Charlie Frankel, a prospective member of the class of 2027, sees some benefits of virtual tours, but would still like to visit a campus before committing to attend.
“It makes visiting colleges that are really far away a lot easier and a lot cheaper, because you don’t need to pay for travel,” Frankel said. “[But] I’m definitely going to want to like the area and know where things are.”
Frankel wants to take an in-person, student-guided campus tour, because “a student can give you very honest and very direct answers to questions.” Frankel plans to ask his student tour guides about their opinions of campus: for example, whether it is walkable in the winter and which buildings are most inconveniently located.
“Questions like that, I feel like you wouldn’t really be able to answer yourself,” Frankel said.
Sadie Transom — another prospective member of the class of 2027 — is excited that the University is resuming in-person tours. To her, virtual tours felt like an insufficient alternative.
“With virtual tours, I’m seeing exactly what they want me to see,” Transom said. “I’m not going to be able to see if I could actually picture myself there.”
Transom is considering registering for one of the University’s campus tours within the next month. She is looking forward to learning about campus life from a student — on an in-person tour, she said, “you get to see and hear about what student life is really like.”
Tours will continue on select dates through Nov. 13. In-person information sessions will resume as well, the first being held on Saturday, Oct. 23. Visitors are required to register for both tours and information sessions in advance on the University’s visitor relations website. For in-person information sessions, visitors must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result within 72 hours of the event.