The Columns

Statement from the Admissions Office Regarding Admissions Tours

— by on April 11th, 2017

In response to questions that have arisen regarding the student-led campus admissions tours, we want to clarify the current situation and address any confusion that exists regarding the tour route.

First, Lee Chapel was never removed from the campus tour. Nor would it ever be.

Throughout the year, members of the admissions office staff have had discussions with student leaders of the University Ambassadors, our 80-member cadre of volunteer student guides, about the tour and how it can best complement the overall campus visit experience for prospective students and families.

Our discussions have focused on how to show the campus as fully as possible while reinforcing priorities that we know prospective students have: the academic rigor for which the university is well known; the highly personalized nature of the student experience; and the Honor System. The route itself is central to this mission. We weave the message about the centrality of the Honor System throughout the tour — not by simply talking about it, but by showing its impact throughout campus.

In February, our conversations with the University Ambassadors included a suggestion that guides walk through or stop in front of Lee Chapel, rather than seating tour groups inside for a 10-minute discussion, as is the custom of many of our Ambassadors. This suggestion was translated, inaccurately, into an instruction not to enter the space. We regret that this was the way some interpreted the message, since this was not our intent. Rather, our goal was to allow time for tours to visit more spaces on campus in an effort to meet the expressed interests of our prospective students while still highlighting our history and its connections to the Honor System.

Our thinking on the optimal tour route has continued to evolve since those discussions in February, thanks to input from ambassadors and feedback from visitors. Beginning in Spring Term, tours will enter Lee Chapel before proceeding into Washington Hall, where guides can tell the story of how a student’s career begins and ends on the Front Campus and emphasize the ways in which the University’s core values are represented in those spaces.

As we seek to enroll the most qualified and talented group of entering students, all of our interactions with prospective students and families are crucial. We especially value the role that the University Ambassadors play and are delighted to have a collaborative relationship with the students who comprise this group. We regret the confusion surrounding the evolution of our campus visit experience and will continue to work with our University Ambassadors to develop a tour that showcases the academic rigor, unique spaces and vibrant Honor System that make Washington and Lee so distinctive.