Welcome Center leaves prospective students feeling at home

Students in group

Visiting students and family members talk to TOUR ambassador Lesley Mueller in the new Welcome Center at OSU, formerly the visitor’s center. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

For many years, the Visitor’s Center in the Kerr Administration Building welcomed thousands of visitors to campus. This fall, the center was relocated to the Beth Ray Center for Academic Support, and has been renamed the Welcome Center.

Alexandra Galbreath, associate director with the Office of Admissions, said the major impetus for the move was space and service.

“In our previous space, we had to use different classrooms on campus for presentations and lacked a waiting area that could accommodate the number of visitors. Students and families would be sitting on the stairs waiting for tours sometimes,” Galbreath said. “By having the additional space and proximity to classrooms within the Beth Ray Center, our visitors have a more seamless experience. Also, this location is ideally located next to the parking garage, Beaver Store, The Centro Cultural Cesar Chavez cultural resource center, athletics and overall provides a fantastic welcome to Beaver Nation.”

welcome center

The new Welcome Center is located in the Beth Ray Center for Academic Support. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

During 2016-17, the center served around 26,000 total visitors. Galbreath said the number of individual and group visits increases every year, and the Kerr location was simply no longer serving the needs of visitors and staff. Having the center inside a building dedicated to academic success also made sense, she said.

While the center’s focus on providing a positive experience for prospective students and their families hasn’t changed, the new location has enabled them to expand on their mission, including tailoring the route of their student ambassador-led tours to be more intentional and thoughtful about how they share the campus with visitors.

“We emphasize creating a visit experience that is personalized and personable, from smaller tours to increased one-on-one interactions. We have worked over that last few years to elevate our TOUR Ambassador Program and increase our staff to accomplish this and being in our new space perfectly complements that,” Galbreath said.

family visit

A program coordinator sits down with a visiting student and his family. Families can arrange for private appointments and a chance to chat with experts on all OSU-related matters. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Tours are led by “TOUR Ambassadors,” a group of 55 current undergraduate students, including 15 diversity TOUR Ambassadors and five student coordinators in leadership roles. Newly hired ambassadors take a Spring term course for training and all ambassadors have a refresher week-long training before the start of Fall term.

“We also have continual training and professional development for our student staff all throughout the year,” Galbreath said. “We have great campus partners that provide a lot of the training to our staff. They have to know a lot about everything OSU, and that is a lot of information. So, it is always a learning opportunity.”

The ambassadors not only get a unique opportunity to learn a lot about their university, but they also gain many skills that will help long after they leave Oregon State, including communication skills, conflict resolution, professionalism and working with diverse populations.

“We strive to not only train them on providing excellent tours and customer service, but also on skills to prepare them for that next step after college,” Galbreath said.

Many campus partners offer additional visit options depending on the interest of the incoming students, as well as training and support of the program. They also provide student stories, which are helpful in giving prospective students a real taste of what Oregon State is like.

tour

Brett Gill, TOUR ambassador,  leads a tour of prospective students outside the Welcome Center. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

“The Welcome Center is where ‘out there’ begins,” Galbreath said. “We have an amazing staff of student leaders who are eager to share their Beaver Nation pride. The visit to campus is such a critical component to a student’s college decision process and we are so excited to be in a space that can support providing the best experience possible. “

The Welcome Center is open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding major holidays. Campus tours are offered Monday through Friday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 pm., and 3 p.m. Individual visits, as well as tours for visiting faculty who are interviewing for jobs at Oregon State can also be arranged. For more information:  http://visitosu.oregonstate.edu/

~ Theresa Hogue

 

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