Student Recruitment Committee

An inside look at the group bringing in the next class of Generals during their busiest season


Student Recruitment Committee Co-Chairs Caroline Nixon ‘15 and Lucy Smith ‘15. Photo by Emma Deihle.

Emma Deihle

If you’ve been on campus during the last few weeks, you may have noticed several unfamiliar faces as you’ve carried out your daily routine. That’s because it is college tour season, and countless families have travelled to Washington and Lee to survey the campus.

Those people walking backwards with a big group following them? Those are members of the Student Recruitment Committee, charged with showcasing W&L and winning over prospective students. The Ring-tum Phi sat down with the leadership team of the Student Recruitment Committee to talk all things tour.

Co-Chairs Lucy Smith ’15 and Caroline Nixon ’15 have been members of the SRC since their freshman year.

Nixon’s sister went to W&L, so she was familiar with the way tours were conducted and knew she wanted to get involved.

“Since then I’ve loved it,” she said.

The SRC is staffed each year by an executive team comprised of the co-presidents, a vice president, a social media team and about 80-85 tour guides. On average, the SRC leads three tours a day (fifteen every school week) and then one or two Saturday tours. It is up to an executive’s discretion whether he or she would like to continue to lead tours. Smith and Nixon said Mondays and Fridays are the busiest days, but it also depends on the season.

While the admissions office offers official information sessions about the application and the “numbers,” as Smith said, she thinks the mission of the SRC is to individualize the admissions process.

“I think the tour guide’s job is to show what student life is like and make it a personal experience for the people who visit,” said Smith. “You’ll never go on the same tour twice, even if you go with the same person.”

Nixon said that prospective students are generally very intelligent and deciding between schools comparable to W&L, but they often choose W&L not only for the academics but also for the social life and quality of the students.

“I think that tour guides are especially important on W&L’s campus, versus some other equally academic schools, because people realize what type of people go here and that’s how they decide if they want to come,” said Nixon.

To ensure the tour guides continue to attract prospective students, training sessions are held each winter for returning members and the newly accepted guides. New members shadow tours led by older members before they can conduct them on their own. The guides are trained to address more difficult or complex questions while also sharing their own stories.

This year, the application was only open to freshmen and sophomores in an effort to have underclassmen grow with the program and eventually lead it. Interviews are being held this week.

Junior Bren Flanigan, Vice-Chair of Membership and Tours, said he wanted to be a part of the leadership team because the SRC does a lot of good for the school and he wanted to oversee some of the changes he thought could be made.

“I wanted to do the leadership role because I think the SRC is one of the most important organizations on campus. We’re responsible with the admissions office for recruiting the next class at W&L,” said Flanigan. “It’s a really impactful difference you can make.”

Flanigan is in charge of internal operations–observing how guides lead tours, making sure tours leave on time and logging how many are carried out each week.

Smith, Nixon and Flanigan agreed that the organizational structure of the SRC is sound and they’d like to see the same level in the quality of student interaction maintained in the future.

“The most important thing is making sure everyone leaves with a positive experience,” said Flanigan.