In-Person Admissions Tours Offer Slice of Campus Life


After what seems like forever, in-person admissions tours are back on.

Between March 25 and April 10, Williston offered about 120 campus visits for admitted students and their families. To adhere to the school’s Covid protocols, they followed strict rules; visitors needed a negative PCR test, no more than four families could visit in the same time slot, and all guests had to follow social-distancing guidelines.

Although admitted prospective students will not be able to sleep over in the dorms as in previous years, they still get a real feel for Williston’s campus.

Chris Dietrich, Dean of Enrollment Management, said Williston saw a significant increase in interest for Fall, 2021.

“We were able to offer acceptances to even more students this year than we have ever been able to on March 10,” he said. “The increased number of acceptances, coupled with the great work Williston students and faculty members did during our webinars and during our on-campus tours resulted in a higher yield than we usually experience.

Dietrich said currently, Williston has enrolled more students by April 10 than it has in “at least in the last 15 years, and we are essentially no longer considering new applicants for Fall 2021.”

In an email, Dietrich explained that 60 out of the 92 upper-school students who visited campus decided to enroll at Williston, while 26 out of 28 Middle School students enrolled.

Director of Middle School Admissions, Allison Marsland, said touring students and their parents were appreciative of the chance to finally set foot on campus instead of experiencing the school over Zoom. Even though Williston did do an admitted students day, as well as panels on academics, student life, and the 9th grade program, all were online. Williston also offered “milkshake Zooms” with admissions interns and coffee chats with Dietrich and Head of School Bob Hill for parents.

“Normally families would’ve visited us and already know what it’s like so they’re coming to confirm their impressions and learn more,” she said. “This year, most families were coming for the first time, so they only knew about us by what we posted online, or the webinars we had over the fall and winter. This was their first chance to be on campus and to see our students in classes in person.”

Marsland said the Admissions department was able to personalize the tours for each specific family.

“Not being able to have an admitted students day event actually probably helped us, because we were able to personalize every visit instead of having a group do something together and have it not resonate with everyone,” she said. “We were able to meet every family one-on-one and take them to exactly where they needed to be.”

The other admission officers who gave tours were Mr. Farmer, Mr. Cunha, Ms. Greener, Ms. Fulcher, and Hill, who took over for Ms. Talbot Syfu who has a broken foot.

Annika Jensen, a day student from Westfield, Mass., feels safe giving tours since interested students are mandated to have a negative PCR next before arriving on campus.  Talking to different Williston students was one way Annika herself was attracted to Williston, so she said she is glad other families get to experience talking with current students, especially because it’s been such an unusual year.

“Since we can’t really give full tours during Covid, there is less time to talk about Williston to the families, which is kind of upsetting,” she said. “I know a large part of why I came was being able to talk to different students,” she said.

Rosie Crooker, a first-year junior boarder from Francestown, New Hampshire, has given tours to prospective students from Mexico City, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. Although Rosie hasn’t given tours before, she finds using the outdoor spaces for families a great idea.

“It is set up really well so that students touring families have a good outdoor space in which to answer any questions the family might have, while maintaining distance and keeping our community safe,” she said.