One of the biggest factors influencing how today’s high school seniors choose a college is the campus tour. Who doesn’t have a memory of stepping onto the campus of your dream school to find that it’s actually more of a nightmare—or at least, nowhere near as great as it looked on the website?
Your academic library can play a valuable role in demonstrating just how awesome your campus is for those on a tour. When your facilities are the starring attraction on a tour, students have the chance to see how their soon-to-be fellow classmates, professors and staff are all served by your great resources. But how do you get a plum position on the tour, and once you have one, how do you show off the best you’ve got to offer in just a few minutes? Here are some tips.
Get acquainted with the new model of the campus tour
We all know it’s a rough time in higher education: with student debt off the charts and budget cuts at universities across the country, keeping strong enrollment numbers is crucial for your institution. The stakes couldn’t be higher for this campus tour!
Because of this, many colleges are hiring outside consultants to rework the campus tour to show off the real “feel” of the school. Instead of simply spouting facts about the arts building’s history, tours are becoming more interactive, engaging and experiential. Students touring the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities may get the chance to take a picture outside the groovy, Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum, while those touring Pitzer College in California may have the chance to stop and sample a kumquat or an avocado from one of the many fruit trees that grow on campus.
If your institution is embracing this new model, educate enrollment managers, admission staff and student tour guides about your library. Encourage them to bring students inside for a quick demo of your 3D printer or to experience the new virtual reality headset you’ve recently invested in. When you can show that your library can add value and fun experiences to a tour, you prove that you can help sway prospective students.
Consider the parents
Prospective students may be more interested in getting a sense of the party scene or finding out which dining hall offers the best lunch options, but you can expect their parents to be interested in one thing: academics. Let this be an opportunity for you to present your library as the perfect place on campus for students to broaden their minds and complete their Writing 100 assignments in peace.
Take a moment and think of some of the questions parents may ask you: is there lots of space for students to study together? Are faculty and staff in the library as well as students? Are there high-quality digital resources available? What about educational events? You should be prepared to not just answer those questions verbally, but present an environment where they don’t even need to be asked. Students embarrassed by their nosy parents will thank you.
Be smart with timing
Tours often come by both on weekdays and weekends. There’s a good chance your library will look different to those coming by on a Sunday morning than it does to those who arranged to visit mid-afternoon on Wednesday, so be prepared to modify your responses to questions based on when people are dropping by. In order to do so, take careful note of how and when different people in your community drop by. Mention when the most frequent study hours are, and whether there’s usually a line to reserve a computer. Introduce prospective students to high-value resources in your library, and try to time it so that there’s a friendly student already using them who can provide some insight. Not only will the tour get to see students in action, but you’ll have a game plan if they drop by during the deadest hours of the week.
Want to know more about proving the value of your library on campus today? We’ve got a white paper to help you out—it’s even called “The Value of the Library on Campus Today.” Check it out below.