When a family has a campus visit at the University of St. Thomas, they often meet with an undergraduate admissions counselor, but they can also take a UST campus tour from trained student guides, called Presidential Ambassadors.
Sergio R. Gonzalez, a senior finance and economics major and University of St. Thomas campus tour guide, gave us the scoop on what to expect during a tour of UST’s Houston campus.
Related Link: Schedule a campus visit!
What do you remember about your first campus visit? Is there anything about the buildings/ tour that surprised you?
I remember thinking how small the University of St. Thomas campus was and how easy it was going to be to navigate. I attended an incredibly large high school, and it was great knowing that I was not going to have to deal with the stress of traversing large distances just to get to class.
Editor’s Note: Check out the University of St. Thomas campus map
What are some things you found out on your first campus tour (or in your training materials) that you never thought to ask?
The history behind some of the buildings and the surrounding area was definitely something I never thought much about before my training as a Presidential Ambassador. You usually don’t think of Houston as a “historically significant” city, so learning about the history of buildings on campus—such as the Link-Lee Mansion built in 1912 or the childhood home of billionaire inventor Howard Hughes of “Aviator” fame—definitely added some allure to the campus. Being a history geek, it’s fun to imagine what the area might have looked like a half century or so ago.
What are some typical questions (or wacky ones) families ask student guides on a St. Thomas campus visit?
Families usually come prepared with very important statistic-based questions: “What is your acceptance rate?” “What percentage of students make it to their top pick medical school after graduating?” etc. After they realize how well accredited the university is, they usually feel more comfortable asking more abstract questions in regards to campus life and so on.
One question that sticks out was in regards to tendencies of students’ political leanings. I didn’t really know how to answer because of the variety of opinions that come with being such a diverse campus.
Is there a family you’ve met who was surprised or enlightened by information you gave them?
There isn’t one specific occasion where I felt I’ve really surprised anyone, but I do feel that when I start giving my own personal insight to a student, I have the ability to make them a little bit more open minded. For instance, sometimes some students have their minds set on a large state school and are hesitant to picture themselves at a university like St. Thomas. I let them know that choosing a university is a multifaceted decision to make, and that they should pick a school that is compatible with every facet of their personality.
Often times, students get hung up on this very idealized image of a school with Greek life and a big football team and forget to ask themselves if the institution is actually a reflection of their personality as a whole that will help them reach their goals by being compatible with their strengths and weaknesses.
What are some places at UST that prospective students wouldn’t get to visit except for on a campus tour?
Prospective students would usually not have an opportunity to visit the residence hall or classroom without going with a UST college tour guide. A lot of details about on-campus living can’t really be expressed online, and they tend to be some of the most influencing factors when people are choosing which university to attend.
What are your favorite campus spots to show families on a tour? Why?
My favorite location is the Chapel of St. Basil. I really enjoy letting them see the beautiful architecture both inside and out. Regardless of whether they are a transfer or freshman, they usually have not had the opportunity to go to a school that has a building with that kind of architecture.
Why does it matter to meet current students before deciding on college?
Current students give you insight into the school that no pamphlet or brochure will ever be able to communicate. Some of the most important details about a university cannot be measured or quantified. That’s where insight from current students comes in handy.
Schedule a University of St. Thomas campus tour today!