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Crummy student tour guides

doctorzindoctorzin Posts: 22Registered User New Member
edited November 2012 in College Confidential Cafe
I’ve been out with my high school daughter on a lot of campus tours of late and admit being somewhat shocked as to the weak presentation skills we see from a lot of student tour guides. Admittedly, I’m observing these young volunteers from an adult’s perspective and am more judgmental and discriminating than the crowd of high school kids in attendance might be. (For parents, it’s painful enough just to be subjected to some numskull tour guide that says “like” every other word). Nonetheless, parents remain an important audience in the college tour process, as a positive first impression is critical, (sharp tour guide = sharp student body).

This said, if I were heading up a school’s admission’s department, I would absolutely insist that my student guides be the absolute brightest, most personable, articulate bunch of kids I can possibly round up around campus to showcase my institution in the most favorable light possible. If this means insisting on far more strict screening & training standards for interested applicants, (paid versus volunteer), so be it. Let me stress that I’m not interested in seeing a bunch of “Barbie & Ken” tour guides that come across as too slick & polished, as being likable and relatable is still paramount to the high school kids in attendance. What I don’t want, however, is an “average” kid that’s simply memorized a bunch of facts, (versus offering interesting, personal insights on campus life), or someone that has sub-par communication skills and poor grooming standards. Student guides should be spontaneous, show some personality and push to the max to get people in the tour group involved in the process.

I’m interested in feedback from parents or high school students on this topic, as to what you’ve experienced to date and what makes a good first impression for you. If any college admission types frequent this forum, your feedback would also be welcome. Thanks.
Post edited by doctorzin on

Replies to: Crummy student tour guides

  • Cens10Cens10 Posts: 732Registered User Member
    I'm currently a high school student and have went on 5 tours so far. My family have also seen this from a couple of the schools, and I also don't understand it. Personally, I've had a tour guide speak about liquor on campus in front of a lot of parents frequently, like it was a good thing in their eyes. I've also had one that didn't really interact at all, just looked forward the whole time until we got to the next destination; no interpersonal skills imo. It seems to me that some of these guides feel like they don't have to sell the school, and I've seen a lot of posts from people saying their guides couldn't answer a lot of their questions. I just don't seem to understand why the schools would pick people who can't "sell" the school to do just that..
  • GoalsOrientedGoalsOriented Posts: 112Registered User Junior Member
    I guess both the kind of students that visit and the kind of tour guides those students get depend on the type of school. I served as a tour guide several times for my school. I am definitely not a highly outgoing person or a natural small-talker, but I do not think those attributes are necessary to be an effective tour guide. In fact, my school actually actively discouraged their university-wide student representatives from ever giving any kind of personal, non-preapproved advice or insights to either visitors or admitted incoming students. This was done to increase the chance that someone who is not really a match for the school would find out as late as possible (so they could get as much money as possible from them before they think about leaving). So some of that "only memorized facts" problem you are running into may actually be due to a rule by the administration of the school.

    However, the colleges and departments made most of the rules for the college/department-specific representatives, and I was one of those. My department did not ask for us to llie or refuse to tell the truth, so I was completely honest. I never volunteered anything negative, and any time a student/parent thought of something negative themselves, and I knew of a positive to weigh against it, I told them of that positive.

    As for personability...as I said, I am not someone you are going to find "entertaining," but I hope you do not consider that a priority for a tour guide that is supposed to be helping your daughter make a serious life decision. Some at my school were considered so good at "making the case" for the school even if it meant fudging the facts, that they were selected to be university-wide representatives (whereas others were rejected) even though they had less than a 2.0 cumulative GPA and were on active academic probation.

    What is strange is that you thought tour guides should be constantly trying to engage the visitors in the process. That is what I would do - I would routinely give any additional info I knew as I went to all the tour spots (and would take routes that gave everyone a view of as much of the campus as possible). I would also routinely ask if anyone had any questions about anything, even if not related to the tour. Yet, most of the time I still ended up being pretty quiet because hardly anyone, students or parents, were ever interested in engaging in the process themselves with any questions about anything lol. Maybe it was something about my university or department.
  • Sue22Sue22 Posts: 2,287Registered User Senior Member
    I've found that even some of the most personable tour guides are so stuck in their own experiences of college that they have trouble giving a universal tour. For instance at one college we toured with a bright, enthusiastic, knowledgable tour guide who made constant references to his sport and how wonderful it was to be a part of the team. Unfortunately DS has no interest in team sports. It wasn't until we returned to the admissions office that an AO filled him in on some of the ways the school could match the things he was interested in. Had he not had an interview lined up we would have left the school seeing it as a very poor fit.
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