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University: At UL Lafayette, visitors see ‘best is yet to come’

Megan Wyatt, The Advertiser, June 24, 2014


Prospective students and their parents take a tour of UL’s campus, Monday, June 23, 2014, in Lafayette, La.(Photo: Leslie Westbrook, The Advertiser)

Prospective students and their families stood on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Walk of Honor on Monday as a tour guide told them about the university.

Below their feet, the high school students and their parents could read the names of university alumni who had once studied on the campus. The buildings that surrounded the group are part of the original campus and are full of university history and tradition.

But at the center of those buildings is a torn up grassy area that is currently getting a student-designed makeover to include a central fountain, plaza, walkways and landscaping.

"To me, that’s always very hopeful," said Jodi Guerra, who toured the campus Monday with her 17-year-old son. "When you don’t see those things going on, it means there isn’t money coming in. That’s my signal that things are kind of stagnant."

Jodi Guerra and her son Richard "Luke" Guerra, of Houston, are on a trip to tour colleges in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Although Jodi Guerra had researched UL and learned it had good engineering and business programs, there was one part of the university no amount of research could have captured.

"What I was not prepared for was just how beautiful the campus is," Jodi Guerra said. "And that was just refreshing to see."

Luke Guerra was impressed with the campus dorms and buildings, he said.

"The experience was great," Luke Guerra said. "They have really nice facilities with large buildings for the wide variety of majors they have."

Throughout the tour, the university’s history and tradition juxtaposed with its construction and progress.

Prospective students fed food pellets to turtles and an alligator at Cypress Lake as construction of the new student union building continued across from the swamp.

High school students and their families tour the University of Louisiana at Lafayette daily during the summer months. The tour includes fun facts, history, need-to-know information and a swamp feeding. Video by Megan Wyatt, The Advertiser.

Blocked off sidewalks paired with dirt and construction noise can sometimes be unappealing during a tour, but university tour guide Mamie Lane makes the most of it.

"We want to see the best of the university, but the best is yet to come," Lane said. "That’s just the way we have to look at it. It’s construction right now, but it’s construction for a really great purpose."

University tours are held at 9:30 a.m. each weekday during the summer and serve as a way for prospective students and their families to learn more about the university, its campus and its academic and student-life offerings.

The freshman class is looking brighter and more diverse than ever before, which can be attributed to the university’s construction of new facilities, tightened admissions standards that began in fall 2012, and the Ragin’ Cajuns athletics performance that has attracted national attention.

Incoming UL freshman classes have steadily increased their mean ACT composite score to 23.1 in 2013 from 22.2 in 2009. Mean high school grade point averages have also increased to 3.3 in 2013 from 3.24 in 2009.

The percentage of out-of-state and international students also has grown steadily from 2009 to 2013.

"The school is becoming a school of choice for a lot of students," said Ryan Gonzales, assistant director of admissions for UL. "I think it’s our strong academics and the reputation the university is getting both statewide and nationwide."

First-time freshmen enrollment

Fall 2009: 2,606

In-state: 2,490

Out-of-State: 102

International: 14

Mean ACT Composite: 22.2

Mean high school GPA: 3.24

Fall 2010: 2,955

In-state: 2,824

Out-of-State: 95

International: 36

Mean ACT Composite: 22.4

Mean high school GPA: 3.25

Fall 2011: 2,966

In-state: 2,798

Out-of-State: 136

International: 32

Mean ACT Composite: 22.2

Mean high school GPA: 3.23

Fall 2012: 2,728

In-state: 2,542

Out-of-State: 137

International: 49

Mean ACT Composite: 23.0

Mean high school GPA: 3.28

Fall 2013: 2,693

In-state: 2,510

Out-of-State: 142

International: 41

Mean ACT Composite: 23.1

Mean high school GPA: 3.30

More online

View a video of Monday’s campus tour, including a Cypress Lake alligator and turtle feeding, at theadvertiser.com.

Click here for video.