Wheaton College Admissions Office Adapts to the Spring 2021 Semester Restrictions

With the hybrid spring 2021 semester, the Admissions Office is attempting to adapt to allow prospective students to make the best possible decision while ensuring that students on campus are safe. 

“The Admission Office is doing our best to offer quality, in-person tours while maintaining safety protocols. These tours do not allow outside visitors to enter buildings on campus, we offer iPads to every tour that is loaded with pictures of the insides of all buildings, they are one-on-one, only three visitors are allowed per tour slot, masks are required, and they must fill out health waivers before entering campus. For current high school seniors, these tours are vital to helping them decide where to spend their next four years. For panels, we are only offering online events and information sessions. We utilize Zoom for a majority of these events and have three Wheaton students join an admission counselor as a way for prospective students to learn more about Wheaton!” said Joe Palladino, Assistant Director of Admissions. 

Nicole Janeiro ’23, who had only experienced being a tour guide during the pandemic, told The Wire, “I have definitely gotten very comfortable with giving private tours to families, which has been an interesting journey for me so far. I am aware that in a pre-pandemic world, tour guides usually host multiple families for each tour. However, my experience as a tour guide has been uniquely different as a result of the pandemic in that I haven’t given tours to more than two families at a time. I anticipate that as we approach a new and improved normal, giving tours to multiple families at a time will be nerve-wracking at first, but I assume that I will eventually get the hang of it, with practice of course,” she said. 

“COVID-19 has definitely sent some interesting experiences our way, but I think the Office of Admissions has made amazing changes to still allow prospective students to experience what Wheaton has to offer… even during a pandemic. As a tour guide, it has been a rather exciting experience getting to have a more intimate tour experience with students and their families. Having one or two families on a tour allows them the ability to ask their guide any questions and allow the tour to be catered to them, compared to previous years where tours looked like a flock of flamingos walking around campus. I would say it is one of the silver linings of this crazy time!” said Kayla Dredge ’23. 

All of them recommend visiting campus, if possible, before making the college decision. Guthrie Hartsfield, a student who visited campus before the pandemic, spoke about his experience, “The best part about visiting Wheaton before becoming a student was getting to really feel the warmth of the Wheaton community. As I walked around campus I would see pretty much everyone smile and wave at each other, and it gave the impression that everyone knew each other. That warmth has carried through the years I’ve actually been at Wheaton so my admissions visits were definitely the most valuable resource for me in my college search.”

The office is also engaging in new virtual programs, like “Life of a Lyon,” and “Lunch with a Lyon,” two distinct events that both attempt to bridge the gap created by the pandemic. The first allows prospective students to create relationships with other admitted students and current Wheaton students, and the second allows for personal interaction with Wheaton admissions student workers. “The Life of a Lyon program allows prospective students to experience how friendly Wheaton students are, and gives them a feel for what it’s like to be part of the Wheaton community. It’s a very interactive event, but it’s still approachable for both introverted and extroverted prospective students. This is because they get to choose how much they would like to share, and if they want to have their cameras on or not,” said Chelsea Schroeder ‘21. 

“I think admissions has done an excellent job adapting to COVID and trying to give prospective students the best experience they can. Right now, I have been working with Anna and some other tour guides to prepare an Instagram live tour for Welcome to Wheaton Day. There are so many ideas in the works to give prospective students a somewhat equal chance to experience life on campus before making those difficult decisions. So far the prospective students I have worked with have enjoyed these activities and have provided positive feedback and that right there says a lot about the effort that the admissions staff and student workers are putting in to make things work,” said Dalwin Corcino ’23.