Campus News

Helping Future Wildcats "see blue."


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 21, 2010)Even though University of Kentucky senior Chris “Bo” Milburn grew up only a few miles from campus, he decided he should still probably go on a tour when he was trying to figure out where he would go to college.

It was a decision that would convince him to stay in his hometown to further his education.

“During that campus tour, I just fell in love with UK,” said Milburn.

Now, he’s the one showing prospective students around campus as a tour guide for the UK Visitor Center.

“It is such a privilege to now be the person on the other side, showing these students the great experiences that I have had, and the great opportunities that exist here for them” said Milburn.

Milburn and his fellow tour guides have been quite busy during the past year. 

A record 14,355 visitors came to campus through the Visitor Center, which is located on the plaza level of the Main Building, from July 2009 – June 2010. This is approximately four times the number of guests since the 1998-99 academic year and up from 2008-2009, when the center saw 12,344 visitors. That adds up to a growth rate of 16 percent from 2008-09 to 2009-10.

Why so much growth?

Stephen Barnett, associate director of admission and associate registrar, attributes part of the growth to the increasing number of students who come to campus not with their families, but with various groups. 

“We've certainly seen an increase in the number of group tours taking place at the Visitor Center,” Barnett said. 

“It is a great way for students to experience, as a group, what UK has to offer them,” said Leslie Woltenberg, director of the UK Visitor Center. “For many of these students, it may be their first time in Kentucky or even on a college campus and it is our pleasure to serve as their hosts.”

“We're pleased about this because we know it's allowing more and more students to not only see what college itself is about, but for us to showcase UK as well.”

Contrary to popular belief, not all visitors are high school juniors and seniors.

“We frequently host groups of students that come for school field trips, church youth groups, and summer

programs (such as Upward Bound and Gear Up),” said Woltenberg. “Our youngest group is a 5th grade

class who visit each year – they are always very excited and wear coordinating UK t-shirts!”

It is a trend that helps the students and the university.

“Middle and high schools, even elementary schools, are learning that doing more than just talking about going to college in the classroom may actually encourage more students to attend college in the future, and the campus visit is a perfect way to reinforce their message,” said Barnett.  “We believe the more students who can visit a campus, the more likely they are to attend college, and hopefully many will choose to come to UK in the future.”

Barnett believes the growth can also be attributed to the growing importance that is placed on the campus visit for students in the thick of the college selection process.

“While students have various reasons for selecting a college, many will describe their final decision as having had the ‘feeling’ that it's the right place,” said Barnett.  “While it's hard to pinpoint what exactly that ‘feeling’ is, most students say it happened during their campus visit when they could see the places around them, meet the people who make up the institution, and could visualize themselves in this environment for the next few years of their life.”

That's why the college visit is seen as an essential part of the enrollment process.

"Our goal is to have prospective students and families visit campus and see for themselves what sets the University of Kentucky a part," said Don Witt, vice provost of enrollment management. "We have a beautiful campus with outstanding faculty, staff, and students. The UK Visitor Center helps Enrollment Management to showcase all of the academic and extra/co-curricular activities and opportunities that are available for students."

Visitor Center staff members strive to make sure that each visit feels personal. Students sit through an information session to receive a general overview of the admissions process, along with housing, financial aid, and scholarship details. Afterwards they get to walk through campus with a tour guide, who also is a current student.

“The tour is a phenomenal way for prospective students to get a feel for campus and interact with an actual UK student,” said Woltenberg.  “If a prospective student is able to give us some advanced notice, we love to arrange for meetings with campus representatives (academic advisors, professors, etc.) and even help that student have an opportunity to sit in on a UK class.”

The goal is to not only give students and their families information, but an experience they will remember when they go back to their hometowns.

“It's important for us to provide a genuine and open experience for prospective students so they gain a true sense of everything happening at UK, and the staff and students who operate the Visitor Center do a fantastic job of allowing students to get the best firsthand experience of UK that they can, said Barnett.”

Visitor Center staff members say it’s not a hard job considering the people that make up this university.  

”One of the reasons why working at the Visitor Center is such a rewarding privilege is because I get to work with my fellow tour guides and UK faculty and staff from across campus,” Milburn said. “Working at the Visitor Center has been my most memorable experience in college.”

The University of Kentucky is a special place and that energy is evident from the moment our guests arrive,” Woltenberg said.

It is an energy that Milburn and his colleagues want to share with each and every student and parent who come through the doors of UK.

Watch this video to learn why a campus tour is so important!

To view a transcript of the video above, please click on the "related media and transcript" link just below the photo gallery.

For more information on planning a visit to UK, click here.

Visit for more information on admissions at UK.