Campus life at the UO is exploreUniversity tours go virtual on Amazon Prime series
By Alex Reece, NT Daily I February 25, 2022
Prospective students hoping to experience the sights and sounds of the university can now do so from home by watching an episode of the Amazon Prime series “The College Tour.”
Since its first episode aired in November 2020, “The College Tour,” hosted by TV personality Alex Boylan, has released three seasons of episodes. The show is dedicated to presenting “what it’s truly like being a student at the featured college or university,” according to its website.
Shows dedicated to depicting a college tour create an opportunity for anyone who cannot visit campus because of COVID-19 risks, while also opening up the university to people who might not be able to make the trip to Denton for any other reason.
“Even before COVID-19, the rising cost of college visits pushed colleges to offer alternate options that would allow students to get a feel for the university, campus and student body without having to travel what may be hundreds or thousands of miles,” said Ryan Marlin, senior director of university recruitment, in a quote given to the North Texas Daily by Trista Moxley, senior communications specialist for the university.
The University of North Texas’ appearance on the show also coincides with an important moment in the university’s history — a new spring enrollment record that has been set at more than 40,000 students, according to a university press release.
“It was important for UNT to find solutions for these challenges and ‘The College Tour’ was a perfect way for us to show prospective students UNT’s diverse and inclusive atmosphere,” Marlin said.
Miranda Wilkes, a UNT tour guide and marketing junior, said she happily seized the opportunity to show off the diverse and inclusive atmosphere on campus to a wider audience than she can in a typical tour group.
“Our job is to just show you around — this is where you can go work out, this is where you can go do your homework, this is where you can find financial aid,” Wilkes said. “But we don’t really get to talk things about things like [the Frisco campus] or a transfer student experience […] This episode can kind of go into more depth into some of those.”
Since UNT fully reopened and adjusted to staying open through COVID-19, Wilkes has not noticed a significant drop in tours. However, she said she understands the benefits of a virtual option for anyone who may not be ready to go in person yet. A class of high school students Wilkes recently led on a tour had watched the episode ahead of time with their teacher so they could ask specific questions.
While local graduating high school students can be seen as the episode’s main audience, Wilkes hopes it will also put the university on the radar of individuals who had not yet considered it as an option.
“Maybe after coming upon this video, they might start thinking about it,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes was not the only one excited for the chance to show off the Mean Green campus.
“Our student, faculty and staff contributors jumped at the chance to be part of this amazing opportunity because they truly wanted to share with others what they love about UNT,” Marlin said. “I think their enthusiasm and support for UNT really came through on the show.”
Jim Berscheidt, vice president for University Brand Strategy and Communications, saw the episode as a new way to share the university.
“As we continue looking for new ways to market the university in Texas and beyond, ‘The College Tour’ appeared to be a great channel to share the UNT story,” said Berscheidt in a quote supplied by Moxley. “We are able to go beyond the typical short, paid media message and allow our students, faculty and staff to share why this is a special place to learn.”
One of the episode’s many contributors was Anthony Gaut, a Watauga resident and 2021 graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism. Gaut came to the university as a transfer student the year before and had been featured in other informational videos for the university explaining the process and experience a prospective transfer might have.
“I did a video for UNT called the ‘Transfer Tips,’” Gaut said. “It was basically along the same lines of walking around and talking about the school. So after [‘The College Tour’ team] had seen my work in that video, they had reached out and asked me if I could do ‘The College Tour’ as well.”
Gaut had not been able to see the campus in person before enrolling and said while he would have likely attended anyway due to wanting to enroll in a local college, being able to watch an episode like this would have been helpful beforehand.
“I think the college tour would have been super helpful because it could have given me more details about some of the specific programs that are available at UNT versus just the generic stuff,” Gaut said.
UNT’s episode and the entire series, including a few episodes of a fourth season, are available for anyone to watch either on Amazon Prime or by going to thecollegetour.com.
Featured Image: The College Tour series featuring UNT plays on a TV on Feb. 21, 2022. Photo by John Anderson