Falling in love with Marshall: The Role of a Campus Tour Guide


Rebecca Turnbull

Junior business management and management information systems major Anthony Bady can’t help but smile when talking about his own memories as a member of the Marshall campus community.

On Valentine’s Day last year, tour guide Anthony Bady helped yet another prospective student fall in love with the campus he calls home.

Bady said the student’s family presented a challenge when they made it very clear up front they were considering other schools as well and were not sure about committing to Marshall University.

Bady accepted the challenge of making the family comfortable on Marshall’s campus, despite the cold weather they were about to brave during their tour.

With a couple of jokes and stories, Bady made the family feel right at home. So much at home in fact, that he saw them walking through campus just a few weeks later for orientation.

The family recognized Bady from the tour he gave them and they pulled him over to the side during the orientation.

“They just told me, ‘You know, you really helped us with getting adjusted to the university.’ And then they actually took me out to dinner,” Bady said. “I don’t expect a nice dinner every time I give a good tour, but I definitely understood from that experience that tour guiding is something special.”

Bady, who is now finishing up his fifth semester as a tour guide, said tour guiding gives students the opportunity to not only pay homage to Marshall’s history, but also to serve as a first impression of Marshall for a prospective student.

President Jerry Gilbert has been promoting an improved image for Marshall University through Marshall’s new marketing campaign developed this semester to increase the recruitment, enrollment and retention of future and current “sons and daughters of Marshall.”

Director of recruitment Beth Wolfe said the work of student tour guides plays a significant role in the success of the new campaign.

“Tour guides are so crucial in providing that perspective of the current student experience on campus,” Wolfe said. “You can learn a lot on websites and through brochures and by talking on the phone with people on campus. But, until you come to campus and see it for yourself and meet the people that are here, you really don’t have a good sense of the culture of the school. And that’s a really important but kind of intangible part of the selection process.”

Senior public relations major Hannah Sayre is finishing her third semester as a tour guide for the university and said campus visits have been and will continue to be the “best recruiting tool” for Marshall.

Sayre said she and other tour guides do research on their own time to constantly stay up to date on developments within the university, offering potential students and their families a more comprehensive understanding beyond the images and information of a recruiting pamphlet.

Sophomore economics and finance major Matt Jarvis is completing his second semester as a tour guide and said he alters his tours to fit the needs of the particular student, going a step farther than what online or paper marketing techniques can do for the student.

“As tour guides, it’s our job to not only tell them about the campus and the facilities, but also to kind of see where they would be a good fit,” Jarvis said. “We help them to see themselves on campus with an actual role in the university and not just as another student.”

Jarvis said working as a tour guide not only cultivates visitors’ sense of belonging on campus, but it also enhances his own appreciation for the university.

“Not only are you going to be able to learn more about Marshall, but you’re actually going to learn a little more about yourself,” Jarvis said. “At first, it will surprise you how much you don’t know about the school, but then it actually makes you fall more in love with the school you’re already going to.”

Wolfe said she hopes to grow the tour guide program as the university grows, giving other students the chance to express their gratitude and “give back” to Marshall by reaching out to others.

“It’s really great to see the mix of students who are interested in and passionate about Marshall,” Wolfe said. “They’re driven to share that enthusiasm with other students and that’s exciting for me to see.”

Along with Bady, Sayre and Jarvis said students from past tours have approached them on campus to thank the guides for sharing their university experiences with students to help students thrive as Sons and Daughters of Marshall.

They and other tour guides will continue to promote Marshall to students at the Office of Recruitment’s “Becoming One of the Herd” event from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday on campus.

Wolfe said the event is primarily for students who have already been accepted to Marshall, but would like to learn more about the university before making the commitment to officially enroll.

Rebecca Turnbull can be contacted at [email protected].