University tours help attract potential students

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Going on a guided campus tour as an incoming freshman can make or break a student’s decision to attend the University.

Staff who hire campus tour guides are searching for specific things students can bring to the table.

“We look for unique experiences and a passion for the University,” said Cristina Sanchez, administrative coordinator for campus tour guides.

She oversees the hiring and training of tour guides. Sanchez likes to see a diversity of students apply to work as guides.

“We want students of different majors and from different places to come and work for us to best represent every new potential student coming to see BG,” Sanchez said. “But the most important thing that we can see is someone who has a passion for the University, because it is easy to tell when they do and when they don’t.”

Lisa Frey, a senior and transfer student from Owens Community College, knew she wanted to go to the University when she went through a campus tour her sophomore year.

“I already was set on going to BG,” Frey said. “Listening to them talk and hearing about the cute, fun facts made me care for the University more than I already did.”

Sara Westendorf, a junior from Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, went on a tour with her mother Tuesday afternoon.

“I didn’t know anything about Bowling Green before I came here,” Westendorf said. “I was just looking for something I could afford and was close to home.”

After going on an hour-long tour, Westendorf couldn’t have been happier about the University, she said.

“The people here are really friendly,” Westendorf said. “The buildings are all located in convenient places.”

Sara’s mother, Mary Westendorf, also was impressed with the University.

“We had just taken a tour of University of Toledo,” Mary said. “I didn’t see any students walking around over there at all. But here, while we were walking through the Union, I saw so many students; all with happy, smiling faces.”

Tom Bigley, a junior, was the Westendorfs’ tour guide. He showed them several buildings on campus including the library, the Union and Business Administration Building.

“I love being a tour guide,” Bigley said. “I get to show why I love BG to students and try to convince them to become a student too.”

Bigley likes the responsibility that comes with being a tour guide as well.

“I am the first face students see when they come here,” Bigley said. “So in a way, I represent the University to them.”

He decided to become a guide his freshman year. However, the road to becoming one is no easy feat.

Sanchez makes those applying go through a three-step process to become a tour guide.

Students have to fill out an online application, then give a three-minute audition in front of several judges, where they have to talk about the University as if they were giving a tour.

The last step to the process is a 15-minute interview with Sanchez and a student manager, where they ask questions like why they came to the University and what is the importance of being a tour guide to the University.

The application process starts at the beginning of the second semester every year. It just finished this year, with a total of 49 out of 171 students that applied got the job.

Bigley is happy with the incoming tour guides, but is looking forward to future students coming in the following years.

“Even if students didn’t apply this year, don’t give up,” Bigley said. “If people feel that they can and want to become a tour guide, try next year. You never know until you try.”