As Admission office revamps ambassador program, tour guides will go unpaid

Wheaton continues to have more student applications with each passing year and this has caused the Admissions Office to revamp its ambassador program.

Among the changes are two new student volunteer positions that have been created. The first is the entirely new position of panelist, while the second is a change to the tour guide position, which will no longer be a paid campus job.

Each position requires a separate application that focuses on a distinct set of responsibilities. According to the email sent out by Senior Assistant Director of Admission Timothy Cushing, tour guides will be in charge of “[providing] students and their families with a comprehensive and engaging campus tour. Tour Guides will not only provide historical and informational facts about the college (with the training provided) but will also reflect on and share their own Wheaton experiences.”

Students will no longer be able to earn money in the position through their federal or Wheaton work study allotments, as they can now. The change has sparked some criticism from current guides.

The panelist position will contribute to “an expanded version of our Information Sessions, in which current students will be the stars of the show,” wrote Cushing. “Information Sessions will be moderated by a member of the admission staff and a senior intern, but will showcase a panel of Wheaton students educating prospective students about Wheaton through their own personal experiences.”

The idea to create a dedicated panelist position came from Vice President of Enrollment and Dean of Admission & Student Aid Grant Gosselin, who said that he had spent some time over the summer thinking about ways to improve Wheaton’s ambassador program. The idea came from his experiences while working at Boston College.

“I had this notion of a panelist program that would [allow] more students to share their stories with prospective students rather than simply having an admission counselor spend an hour giving an overview of Wheaton.”

The panelist program is also a way for prospective students to be exposed to students of the same academic interests and give them even more reason to apply to the college, according to Gosselin.

“Our hope is to find as many ways as possible of helping prospective students find out about Wheaton,” said Gosselin.

Explaining why tour guides would no longer be paid, Gosselin said, “Some of it is to free up some funds, to be honest. It allows us to have funds available so that we can have ways of appreciating all of our student volunteers.”

He believes that having volunteer tour guides rather than student workers will be beneficial for everyone involved.
“The whole point in this is to build even more energy. I think it says a lot when prospective students come into the ambassador program and realize that [tour guides] are not there because they are being paid, but because they love Wheaton.”