Record number of visitors come to Carolina

The busiest time of the tour season is here, with high school students visiting campus to make their final college decision or start their college search.

Since July 1, more than 40,000 people have taken a campus tour, and more than 75,000 people have stopped by the visitor center.

That marks an increase in number of visitors of almost 36 percent over the past six years and a jump of 15 percent from last year. There has been an 89 percent increase in the number of people on tours over the past six years.

Denise Wellman, director of the visitor center, attributes this increase to a number of attention-grabbers at USC, including its No. 1 honors college, the business school’s rankings and recent athletic successes.

“I think there’s a lot of really good things going at the University of South Carolina,” she said. “They’ve all been excited to see the great weather this spring, even though we’ve had five strange days this year.”

Wellman believes that recruitment officers have been successful in getting USC’s name out to a
larger number of people, as well.

“I also think the university is really working hard to recruit students in the state of South Carolina and beyond,” Wellman said. “And their efforts are proving to work really, really well.”

She said that the increase in visitors has ultimately led to the status of this year’s freshman class being the largest, smartest and most diverse in university history.

“That’s really nice to see, and I think that really enhances the overall educational experience for everyone here,” Wellman said.

After their tour, visitors are typically impressed by the facilities, which Wellman said look great for visitors and have been improving.

There are currently about 80 university ambassadors who give tours, and the visitor center will recruit between 25 and 30 more in the fall. This number has increased slightly over time, but according to Wellman, just having more ambassadors doesn’t mean USC is able to accommodate more visitors. The visitor’s center also has to work around the new student schedules, with more students having classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays than other days of the week.

“The ambassadors are functioning at an extremely high level of effectiveness,” Wellman said. “A lot of visitors are very impressed and say these are the best tours of any place they’ve been.”

In order to give even large groups a look at USC, university ambassadors work to connect with every member on their tour, Wellman said.

“I think the most effective thing they do is they tell their story. They connect with each family on the tour,” Wellman said. “It’s a real art form to make sure you are connecting with everyone who wants to have a personal experience.”

Ambassadors also receive a lot of training in order to practice the skills they need to give tours and work on how to connect with people. They receive 52 to 55 hours of training during their first year and 23 to 25 more each year after.

Ultimately, Wellman said she hopes that visitors to the campus feel welcome on their tour.

“People are spending a lot of time and money to come on college visits.” Wellman said. “We want to give them everything they wanted and more when they come to visit.”

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