Offering more than just a campus tour

  • Colleges are making tours more personal to encourage students to enroll
  • These schools are allowing students to have more control of what they want to do rather than being led around by others
  • These schools are receiving positive feedback and more prospective students

Often, the deciding factor of a high school senior's college choice is the campus tour. A boring visit will probably result in the student taking their tuition money elsewhere. A compelling, interactive tour can turn a prospective student into an enrolled student.

Hendrix College, a private liberal arts college in Arkansas, does not just bring visitors around on campus tours. The college immerses students into the Hendrix student lifestyle.

Jennifer McKenzie, assistant director of admission and campus visit coordinator at Hendrix, explained what sets Hendrix apart.

McKenzie said most college visit programs usually fall around 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. and include an information session, campus tour and an opportunity to meet a student.

"The thought behind (Hendrix's tour program) is if a student is looking to spend four years at a college or a university, a brief one- to two-hour session isn't going to make that decision," McKenzie said.

She said she believes students need something much more than just a tour. She said they need to see a day in the life of a Hendrix student.

"The concept behind it is that is more of an immersive program for students when they come to visit," she said. "We don't stick a name tag on them, we give them the flexibility of choosing a class, (and) they get to meet five to seven students during the day."

Andrew Schneider, an admissions counselor in Marquette's Office of Undergraduate Admissions, believes Marquette tours also have a unique feel.

"Every student that visits gets evaluation cards and we see a lot of them come back," Schneider said. "The evaluation is geared towards the entire visit experience."

He said the entire visit experience at Marquette is about the personalization of the tours.

"We do the absolute best we can to make our tours as small as possible," he said. "We almost always try to have one, or at the most two, families on the tour."

Marquette's ratio of tour guides to prospective students is impressive due to the number of Marquette students who want to be tour guides. Schneider said up to 160 students a year apply and only about 15 are hired.

"We are fortunate enough to have a lot of students on campus who want to be tour guides," he said. "All the students that apply are very excited about Marquette and really enjoy Marquette and I think that shows through."

With the ability to have such small groups, prospective students can go wherever they want and see whatever they want.

"We have students who want to see Johnston Hall or Abbotsford or McCormick," he said. "We always try to make sure that the students are seeing what they want and not the stuff they don't care about, especially if they are coming down to make a final decision."

Tim Schneider, an incoming freshman to Marquette, was unsure about his college decision before making his Marquette visit.

"It was between Marquette and Illinois State," Schneider said. "When I took my tour of Marquette I was very surprised that it was just me and the tour guide. I saw everything I wanted to see and that made my decision easy when it came down to choosing Marquette."