Campus Tours: Backward Walking, Forward Thinking

November 28, 2010

By SARAH HALLSTEIN '12 and ABBY WILSON '10

On any given day at Bradley, you might come across a group of prospective students and parents being led around campus by someone walking backward. This engaging, backward-trekking individual would be one of 70 Bradley STARs (Student Admissions Reps and tour guides).

The Admissions office has worked hard to revamp the campus tour experience, and the success of those revisions has depended largely on the STARs. Admissions thought it was doing a good job with campus visits when two consultants took a tour in 2007. The consultants' report, however, made Admissions realize it wasn't giving visitors the best experience Bradley had to offer. Cory Craig, assistant director of Admissions, said that there were details being overlooked, like the tour route taking families past dumpsters and through smoking areas.

In addition to adjusting the route, a student now comes in at 8:30 a.m. and walks the tour route with a clipboard to report anything that would put Bradley in a negative light, such as trash or something inappropriate written on the sidewalk. The report is called in, and the problem is addressed.

"It's been a lot of fun," said Craig, "and because we are taking so much pride in doing this now, even students who aren't doing 'the walk' will call me if they see something during the day."

Admissions also began paying more attention to matching STARs with family interests during the tour. While tour guides used to be determined by the tour's scheduled time, they are now chosen by major, so a communications major would give a tour to a student interested in that field. "I think, honestly, that's why we see an increase in our numbers," said Craig. "We've improved the experience to make [Bradley] a perfect fit for them. It makes a difference."

It does make a difference, as evidenced by the size of this year's incoming freshman class: more than 1,130, and last year's freshman class: 1,106. The STARs are able to see the results of their hard work, too. Finance major MATT STEIN '11 says, "I'll run into [students] and they'll say, 'Hey! You're the reason I chose Bradley.'"

"[The STARs] are all very dedicated to this job," said Craig. "We search for these kids because we want them to be really excited about Bradley. And they are definitely the biggest cheerleaders for this institution."