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If you happened to walk through Mantor hall in the past few weeks, you may have noticed something unusual... read more

Student diplomats sign students, not treaties
Erik Dodge
Antelope Staff
Photo by Erik Dodge
(From left to right) Student diplomats Grant Campbell, Andy Greer and Paul Knutson give a tour to a group of prospective students.

High school seniors, parents and alumni. These are just a few of the people student diplomats take on tours around campus in an effort to bring prospective students to UNK.

Year round, potential Lopers visit campus where Mike Pelster, assistant director of admissions reminds them, “Today could be one of the biggest days of your life.” Despite such a bold statement, Pelster and the student diplomats maintain an upbeat mood.  
Tours must be geared toward the audience, whether they are filled with high school freshmen, transferring college students or anxious parents. “We make sure to learn as much about the kids as we can and try to gear the tours toward them,” said student diplomat and Kearney native Andy Greer.

 Sometimes this means Greer will tell a joke like, “We’re professional tour guides. We’re ranked No. 1 nationally by my mom.”  Other times it means a student diplomat will lag at the back of a tour to answer parents’ questions, as Grant Campbell did on a tour last Friday with Brad Smith, father of a touring high school senior.

“Having students give these tours is crucial,” Smith said. “Kearney’s tour was better than other schools we’ve been to, because there were multiple guides to play off each other and share personal stories.”

Smith, who lives in Independence, Mo.,  has visited Drake, Washburn and Truman State with his son Joshua.

Groups range in size from one or two students up to around 25. Keeping everyone together, attentive and moving can be a challenge. “People don’t realize how hard it is to herd that large of a group through campus,” Greer said.

To give these tours, student diplomats must be knowledgeable about every aspect of the university— from the finance office to the communications center and everywhere in between.  Tours include information on every building on campus, information about living in residence halls and tips about life in the city of Kearney.

After the student diplomats advised students how to buy a couch for their dorm rooms, accounting major and student diplomat Paul Knutson told the group how to become an instant celebrity on their floor: “The more grandma your couch is, the cooler you are.”

“The student diplomat did an excellent job of explaining everything. He will probably influence my college choice,” said Matthew Plowden, a high school senior from Papillion.

Student diplomats often have a significant impact on visiting students’ college decision. “They probably have more influence than any of our staff and probably even more influence than the faculty. They are one of the largest factors for prospective students,” Pelster said.

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