On March 26, the College started its spring admissions tours, which will run until May 1 — the end of “yield season,” or the time period in which high school seniors receive their collegiate decisions and notify schools of their choice.
The Office of Admissions is conducting visits Monday through Saturday, and each day a total of 10 admitted students, with a maximum of two family members each, receive an hourlong guided campus walk and a 50-minute virtual information session. The daily groups are staggered, meaning five students are on tour while the other five are in session, and there is only one family per tour guide. Kenyon is only permitting staff members to be tour guides.
All admitted students and their families must abide by the College’s COVID-19 guidelines, including mask-wearing during their visits, and the only College buildings they are permitted to enter are Ransom Hall and the Kenyon Inn. However, Village shops and restaurants are still open to the public.
Compared to the visitation policies of the other Ohio Five schools — Denison University, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University and the College of Wooster — Kenyon has taken a more conservative approach. The other schools allow student admissions workers to be in-person guides for admitted students and their families. In addition, excluding Oberlin and Denison, the three other institutions conduct larger tours as well as in-person interviews, open houses and information sessions. Conversely, all informational programming from Kenyon is currently virtual, with over 25 classes, nine interest-specific sessions, two Presidential Town Halls and events available for admitted international students, Kenyon Educational Enrichment Program and STEM Scholars and transfer students.
However, members of the campus community have expressed concerns at admissions tours continuing during an uptick in community COVID-19 cases and the reinstatement of quiet period guidelines. Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions Diane C. Anci said that her office has received a handful of complaints about official visitors thus far, but not an overwhelming amount.
“We’ve been vigilant with our guests,” she said. “There is a person who speaks to them on the telephone at the point of their registration and emphasizes the point that they must follow all of the rules. They know about our Kenyon Commitment [and] they know about all of the protocols.” Once families arrive, they are again reminded of the rules and are asked to leave campus once their visit is complete.
Despite admissions tours looking very different this academic year, Kenyon has so far received 7,576 applications, a 14.8% increase over last year and a record-breaking figure, according to Anci.
The Office of Admissions has never had a spring like this one, and they have done a good deal of work to keep up during the pandemic. “We’re stretched very thin as a staff this month because we have more than 30 virtual events taking place,” said Anci. “We have kept our community largely safe from this pandemic and it is our aim to continue to do that through the end of this year.”
Because of the reinstatement of the quiet period, the Office of Admissions is not currently scheduling new visits. Only pre-registered visits will proceed, and cancelled visits will not be filled from the waiting list. However, in recent weeks, students reported a number of unauthorized visitors to Campus Safety, including a wedding party. Other students have noticed visitors without masks walking around campus.
President Sean Decatur believes some of the people disregarding the rules may be here for admissions visits, but many of them may also have come to Gambier for personal reasons. “I think that it’s one of the consequences of the campus being an open space that people will come on to the open space. I’ve heard more examples of concerns around [unauthorized visitors] than I have about the official admissions tours,” he said.
Decatur also notes that, as tours continue, if anybody notices something that makes them uncomfortable, “letting Campus Safety know is the right thing [to do].”