Campus visits take new form

Elise Wennberg—Staff Writer

Bright eyed and bushytailed, high school seniors arrive at campus of Dordt University for the first time. They take in the sights: the clocktower, the odd-looking statue with weird proportions, and the different buildings with students traveling from class to class. 

Although on-campus visits take on a different shape this semester, Dordt is giving it their all to make them as close to normal as possible. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, individual visits occur, and Fridays host group visits, all of which started in September. According to Ruth Hofland, who coordinates campus visits, the groups started off small, with about 20 to 30 people including the parents of the students. 

“We don’t limit parents,” Hofland said. “Initially we talked about only having one parent per student visiting, but we think it’s really important for both parents to come if they want that.”

In order to follow social distancing regulations, larger visiting groups meet in the De Yager Student Center instead of the Eckardt Lounge. This allows for proper adherence to social distancing protocols. As of late, around 35 students show for these visitation days and the total amount of visitors ranges near 100 people. 

Before visitors are allowed on campus, Dordt confirms what is expected of them. 

“We expect them to be healthy. If they have been in contact with anybody with COVID in the last 14 days or if they have any signs, we ask that they reschedule their visit,” Hofland said, “Keeping our visitors and our campus community safe is one of our greatest priorities.” 

“We don’t limit parents,” Hofland said. “Initially we talked about only having one parent per student visiting, but we think it’s really important for both parents to come if they want that.”

When touring, students are divided into smaller groups to help keep them separated. These individuals are required to wear masks during the tours as well. When they arrive on campus, all visitors must fill out a form asking if they are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19 and complete a temperature check.

Since overnight stays are currently prohibited, Dordt has taken measures to reimburse those who had to fly and drive long distances by offering to stipend the cost of staying at a hotel and the added expense of a rental car.

“So far this school year we have had 167 seniors, and last year we were at 190 at this time. Coming up in the next few weeks we may experience a larger gap because this is the time of the year where we typically have our biggest visit groups,” Hofland said. 

Along with these in-person tours, virtual visits have allowed for students to get a feel for Dordt, even when they cannot be here physically. This type of visit gives Dordt the opportunity to highlight its best qualities to an unlimited amount of people.

These visits have opened up new possibilities for those who are not able to travel to Dordt for a campus tour, especially for those living across the globe. Since these tours started in March, about 1,400 people have capitalized on the opportunity, compared to the usual 900 students who usually visit per year. 

“We’ve had some big visits. It just gives me a great overview of Dordt, if they’re interested at all,” Hofland said. 

These visits are set up like regular campus visits: a welcome from President Hoekstra, a devotional with Aaron Baart, and an overview of Dordt as a whole. Following, a student panel occurs and the students can meet with different faculty members if needed. The visit concludes with a wrap up meeting with their admissions counselor.

Even after the effects of COVID-19, virtual tours will continue for those who are unable to visit campus personally. The possibility of giving smaller tours to entire high school classrooms also exists.

Hofland is happy to say that these visits have been well received. Even if students cannot arrive on campus, they can still get a feel for what it is like. And even considering the success of virtual visits, the Dordt admissions staff is excited to return to normal visits to provide an even richer experience.

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