Russell Shearer, student ambassador, talks to a group of prospective students at Folsom Field during a tour of the University of Colorado campus Wednesday.
Zak Wood
Russell Shearer, student ambassador, talks to a group of prospective students at Folsom Field during a tour of the University of Colorado campus Wednesday.

BOULDER, Colo. –

Each semester, thousands of prospective students and their parents come from around the country to visit the University of Colorado.

For most visitors, a trip to Boulder offers a firsthand impression of what life on campus would look and feel like if they chose to enroll at CU.

Yet would-be Buffs hitting campus for the first time this week â CU’s spring break â are experiencing something altogether different: vacant classrooms and mostly lifeless grounds.

It’s putting a damper on some prospective students’ visits.

“I wanted to see more of what the student life was like,” said Penny Novanti, a visiting junior from Wheeler School in Providence, R.I. “I wanted to see how they interact here.”

With classes dismissed and residence halls almost completely shut down, Novanti missed out on some of the most fundamental campus-visitation must-sees: dorm life, dining halls and classroom atmosphere.

In their stead, visitors roaming around CU on Wednesday seemed to pay extra attention to the size and beauty of the campus’ buildings, grounds and surroundings â which dwarfed the otherwise-sizable campus tour groups in their uncharacteristic stillness.

“It’s such a large campus,” said Diana Gailes, Novanti’s mother, “I feel like it would be easy for her to get lost.”

Then again, that impression may not have been due solely to the empty buildings.

“She says that about every school,” Novanti pointed out.

Numbers from the Campus Visitation Program indicate that â regardless of the lack of students on campus this week â it’s just as popular a time as ever for prospective freshmen to check out CU.

“For the last two or three weeks, because spring break is happening at high schools all over the country, we’ve seen a huge increase in our campus tours,” said Kevin MacLennan, CU’s director of admissions.

MacLennan said the Campus Visitation Program has played host to an average of 200 to 250 students a day â and numbers from this week confirm that estimate.

Even without students around to provide a more accurate picture, morning campus tours have averaged more than 150 visitors throughout the week â with 192 guests on Monday.

“We recommend visiting when campus is in session for a more realistic picture,” MacLennan said. “But, understandably, most families can only make time for a visit when it’s convenient with their schedule.”

Peter Earley, a visiting senior from South High School in Pueblo, said that seeing the campus so empty made him glad he had been to CU a few times in the past to visit friends.

“It’s not as busy as I remember it,” Earley said. “But I’m pretty solid on CU-Boulder â I think it’s got more of a college-town atmosphere than any of the other schools I’ve been to.”

Finding a silver lining, Novanti noted that it certainly made the presentation part of the tour more engaging.

“One pro was that I never got distracted from the tour,” she said. “It probably would have been harder to concentrate with students all over the place â but I was able to really focus on what (the guide) was saying.”

Archived comments

“I wanted to see more of what the student life was like,” said Penny Novanti…Hey genius, why didn’t you schedule your visit while class was in session? You even get into CU yet?

uhoh

3/26/2009 10:58:41 AM

“One pro was that I never got distracted from the tour,” she said. “It probably would have been harder to concentrate with students all over the place â but I was able to really focus on what (the guide) was saying.”

Translation: “I have ADD.”

Dr_Belfrey

3/26/2009 5:19:05 PM

Way to encourage her to enroll at CU guys. uhoh…Did you even read the article, genius?

“[M]ost families can only make time for a visit when it’s convenient with their schedule.”

Danimal

3/28/2009 12:07:41 PM