New features enhance tours for potential students

The Campus Visits team has placed a photobooth in the Wiethorn Visitor’s Center to enhance the experience of visiting students. Ambika Singh | Lariat Photographer
The Campus Visits team has placed a photobooth in the Wiethorn Visitor’s Center to enhance the experience of visiting students.
Ambika Singh | Lariat Photographer

By Jade Mardirosian
Staff Writer

On Monday, 360 prospective students, parents and family members visited Baylor’s campus. Columbus Day, a national holiday, is a busy day for campus visits.

Ross VanDyke, assistant director of Campus Visits, explained the allure of the holiday.

“For a lot of [high] schools it’s a national holiday so [prospective] students are already out of school,” VanDyke said. “Also, it comes at the end of a weekend, so a lot of people are already traveling, so it’s a good fit. A lot of parents are also off [from work] or want to take off because the college decision is kind of a joint decision.”

Campus Visits has introduced new initiatives to help enhance prospective students’ visits to Baylor. Itineraries are given to each visitor to map out his or her activities for the day; however, the itinerary format has recently changed from a conventional piece of paper to a lanyard, which is green and gold and reads ‘visitor’ on the front.

“We now give every student a lanyard. On the back, it has their itinerary for the day and professors they are meeting with— when and where,” VanDkye said. “[The lanyards] also help current students, faculty and staff on campus in an effort to identify visitors and be able to be open or friendly to them instead of having that awkward interaction of ‘Hey! Are they a visitor? Can I help them?’”

Other new features to enhance prospective students’ visits include a retro photo booth to capture pictures of their visits, Otis Spunkmeyer cookies for a snack, and self-guided tours through Gowalla, a location-based social networking website.

A typical visit to Baylor’s campus for prospective students begins with an admissions presentation by a faculty member, who explains the admissions process. After that presentation, financial aid questions are answered. The prospective students then take a student-led bus tour of campus that stops at the Baylor Sciences Building, the Student Life Center and Burleson Quadrangle.

Potential students also have the opportunity to meet with a professor in the field they are interested in studying, meet their admissions counselor and talk with a financial aid counselor. Lunch is included at one of the residential dining halls.

“We make a whole day for them,” VanDyke said. “We take their availability, match it with the university’s calendar and make an itinerary for them.”

Waco junior Sarah Carr works at Campus Visits and said busy days like Columbus Day increase the enthusiasm of the student workers who show prospective students Baylor.

“Busy days are a little bit more hectic,” Carr said. “We have a lot of people coming through the office, but I think it adds to the excitement of everybody here in the workplace. We get really excited to have a lot of people coming through.”

VanDyke and Carr both said the highlight for prospective students visiting Baylor is the personal interactions they have while here.

“One of the biggest selling points for any students is to be able to be on campus and interact with professors as well as current students,” VanDyke said.

Carr said that student-led campus tours improve prospective students’ visits.

“A lot of people really like the interaction they have with the tour guides and how willing they are to answer questions and find the information for them if they don’t know it,” Carr said.