Behind the scenes of Days on the Lawn
Students prepare to welcome prospective students
It’s that time of year again — when Grounds are overrun by tour groups, Newcomb Dining Hall becomes packed and the bookstore is full of proud parents purchasing University t-shirts and bumper stickers. It’s the first day of Days on the Lawn.
Days on the Lawn is an open-house program for newly admitted students and their families held during March and April, offering a day-in-the-life perspective on academic, residential and student life at the University. Entirely run by student volunteers, Days on the Lawn will take place March 20 and 27, and April 3, 10, 14 and 17. Anyone can sign up to be a volunteer. This year, 685 students have signed up for the volunteer listserv, though not everyone will ultimately participate.
Sixteen team leaders, selected through an application process, run the various programs of Days on the Lawn, including morning registration, greeters, an admissions area, a student social, residence hall tours and a resource sair. Two co-chairs oversee the organization of the program. The majority of the hands-on interactions with prospective students, though, is done by student volunteers.
Planning for Days on the Lawn begins before winter break. This year’s co-chairs — fourth-year Engineering student Jordan Rogus and second-year College student Michael Horth — selected the team leaders.
Team leaders run listservs, set up and monitor spreadsheets, dictate how programs are run and coordinate volunteers.
Third-year Nursing student Talia Sion is one of the team leaders for the admissions area.
“Being a team leader is way more about organization and logistics, not so much about the implementation … we make sure we plan everything — we contact the right people, we design the t-shirts, we’re having office hours to stuff all the folders and bags for the visitors,” Sion said. “We have to stuff thousands and thousands of folders because we have about 500 visitors a day.”
Rogus and Horth oversee the organization of the program, including working with the Office of Admission to obtain funding. They are responsible for marketing, advertising and interfacing with different parts of the University to make sure everything runs smoothly. The co-chairs also coordinate with local vendors to donate food. This year, Raising Cane’s, Red Eye Cookie Co. and Domino’s have agreed to donate.
Though the team leaders and co-chairs spend months planning for Days on the Lawn, the most important moments happen during the program itself.
“That’s where the true one-on-one interactions occur, and that’s kind of where Days on the Lawn’s bread-and-butter is,” Rogus said. “It’s the one-on-one interactions that facilitate any real decision-making between seniors in high school and coming to college.”
The volunteers themselves do not plan for Days on the Lawn nor do they receive formal training. Any student can sign up to help out through a range of activities, from giving dorm tours to checking in visiting students.
“We really want them to be open and honest and positive, but most importantly real with these visitors — to give them our U.Va. story and their perspective to make them want to come here and learn about U.Va.,” Sion said. “We’re not pitching a motto or a storyline. We are student volunteers who go to class and sleep here and eat here.”