Campus tours seem to be yearlong, yet it is spring/summer months that we see the most activities. This is where student ambassador’s roles are instantly defined. Whether they lead and conduct tours around and through scenic campus grounds, answer questions, or just welcome prospective students and families, student ambassadors provide invaluable insights. Who else is there in Student Affairs to sell, firsthand, the choice of your college to the student who is undecided? Who else has the experience and current information which can be surveyed and converted into data to effect the changes that are needed for retention and success? Each campus tells its own achievements, highlights its history, and is willing to accept the student who sees his/her future in its hallowed halls. Yet, it is your student ambassador who is a fast learner and enthusiast that provides invaluable insights to prospective students and helps them understand what it is to be a college student.
Student Ambassadors understand the benefits of higher education, advocate the option for all throughout our diverse community and, they are engaging in many ways. First, a student who is considering college must come face-to-face with a guide who demonstrates and communicates satisfaction with their campus community, academic programs, safety, and their peers. Second, by being the responsible, approachable student ambassador, the prospective students must be able to critically see why the choice of higher education transcends not just a college name, but that spending time in a college environment has its distinct advantages. Here are a few: spending time with like minded individuals who value research, higher learning, and a passion to fulfill a career path. The student ambassador counts in Student Affairs to share the optimistic message: your college will only serve to enrich your experience and solidify your knowledge base. According to educator Heather James (2008), student ambassador programs are a key part of the positive reputation and future of the institution.
In other ways, this role counts in student affairs in team building where synergy is needed in team participation. Whether it is working alongside staff in student success programs–Admissions, Student Support- with specific events like new student orientation; being a part of a team fosters interpersonal communication skills in all areas of life. Recently, I observed that social media allowed student ambassadors to make instant connection with freshmen cohort during orientation. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat were used to provide updates, sent instant photos online to the real world and showed student affairs events from an incoming student perspective. It’s the welcoming that matters; by showcasing a university’s programs, answering questions on the history of the college, tout student organizations and campus resources, speak to the meaning of diversity or dining in the cafeteria, the unique role that they play makes Student Ambassadors count in Student Affairs.