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If they care so little about their tour guides ...

pebblesandbambampebblesandbambam Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
edited November 2012 in Parents Forum
Visited on Friday, November 10. After a tepid 'presentation' in the auditorium, we were placed with a tour guide who was the farthest thing I would have hoped for from this university ... a gum chewing, sorority-sweater-wearing, heavy-eye-lined girl who provided insights like "the foods not really that terrible". Brilliant.

I was so disappointed, but more importantly, my daughter was disgusted. I tried to dissuade her by saying you can't judge an institution by one person. But, I then had to admit that it does say something about the the school and their lack of respect in providing an experience that equals the time and money that we spent to be there.

How hard is it to vett and train your tour guides to be on brand?or at least presentable? Not very. If you can't, at a minimum, get that right, then I can hardly be expected to pay you $50,000+ to motivate and educate my child.
Post edited by pebblesandbambam on

Replies to: If they care so little about their tour guides ...

  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    Well that's why visits can be so helpful at narrowing down the list! ;)
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,582 Senior Member
    Or perhaps relatively few students have the luxury of touring the college before attending.
  • ChedvaChedva Super Moderator Posts: 28,605 Super Moderator
    Yes, I agree that the tour guides probably should be trained better. But please remember that the admissions office is not usually terribly reflective of the academics or social life of the college. Right now, it's the most important office. Once your student arrives on campus, unless they're working there, they'll never set foot into the admissions office again.

    Also, please remember that many guides are volunteers, and I know that there are a lot of schools that have difficulty recruiting tour guides because they don't pay anything. (At my d's school, becoming a tour guide is highly competitive, because it pays well.)

    Be sure that you let the admissions office know about your experience.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 21,041 Senior Member
    Tour guide may not know everything about his/her school, but if it is a school of certain calibre then their students must at least sound intelligent. You don't need to be trained to sound intelligent.
  • BeanTownGirlBeanTownGirl Registered User Posts: 2,731 Senior Member
    We've had our share of great and not-so-great tour guides. But I would not reject an otherwise excellent school on the basis of one tour guide. That makes no sense. If there were other reasons to cross the school off your list, then fine.
    What we frequently did to gather more data was to split up and go on different tours if there was more than one happening at the time. And if there were extra tours for dorms or the engineering department/college we did those too. And we tried to talk to professors or grad students or even students walking around on campus.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,582 Senior Member
    Here's a question: how important is visiting and touring in the selection of a college? What in particular would you be looking for? How would you account for the possibility that some aspect is not what it seems on first glance?
  • CottageSpiritCottageSpirit Registered User Posts: 200 Junior Member
    On one of our tours, the guide was a freshman. She had only been at the college for a month and didn't really know much about it. Because of that, the tour was a bit odd, but at least she was very sweet and good company. My DH, though, was very disturbed that they were sending someone with so little experience and knowledge out with prospective families. Unfortunately, it was consistent with how this particular college handled other aspects as well - not very thoughtfully.
  • frazzled1frazzled1 Registered User Posts: 5,568 Senior Member
    At many schools the application process for tour guides is highly competitive, and the guides are indeed chosen because they represent the student body especially well. Some slip through the vetting process occasionally.

    I personally would not judge a school to be unworthy of my tuition dollars based on a poor performance from one guide. However, some people will. My youngest did, at a school for which I had high hopes because it would have been an excellent safety. This was the only guide who disappointed in more than 20 tours (with 3 different kids). It's still a great school, my d's impression notwithstanding.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,733 Senior Member
    I don't actually mind if the tour guides admit the food isn't too good as long as they are positive about most things. I do think having freshmen run tours is dumb. We had tour with two guides in April at Carnegie Mellon. The freshman was training for the job and did most of the talking and then the older student added anything that was missing and answered any questions that needed a little more experience. It was nice and we got people with two different majors (or potential majors for the freshman which was also nice.) W

    We also got a lot of drama majors for tour guides. They were good at projecting, but their interests were, naturally, somewhat different from my kids. Luckily my kids met other kids at the schools they were most interested in so that they saw a cross-section usually.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 64,000 Senior Member
    DD was a tour guide and also worked in undergrad admissions. Her interview process was extensive. I think she had at least three interviews, had to provide references from folks in the university and from previous jobs. Once selected, she had an extensive training period...and was not paid for the training period. After the training, she had to do a certain number of tours with a more experienced guide. The tour guides at her school has a "uniform". The school provided shirts, jackets, and rain gear. The guides wore khaki colored slacks, skirts, or (when very hot) shorts of modest length. They could choose any kind of shoes that were comfortable for walking.

    I agree that the tour guide is the first impression some get of a school. Our kiddo HATED Claremont McKenna where the guide, a second term freshman, looked like she just rolled out of bed. Her enthusiasm for the school was great but not supported by information.
  • blueiguanablueiguana Registered User Posts: 7,496 Senior Member
    This was originally posted in the "Colleges you/your child crossed off the list after visiting" thread, but I thought it was appropriate here. A little comic relief and a look into the word of what the tour guides go through. We might want to give these kids a break once in a while. Maybe not all are shining examples of their universities finest, but they take their share of abuse.

    Northwestern Tour Guide Video - YouTube
  • BayBay Registered User Posts: 12,499 Senior Member
    I know better than to judge a college by its tour guide, but my S found it impossible to ignore its influence in his opinion of colleges we visited.

    ucb wrote:
    perhaps relatively few students have the luxury of touring the college before attending.
    how important is visiting and touring in the selection of a college?

    Visiting and touring colleges will be especially important for those applicants who have choices: the top academic applicants and the full-pay applicants. Colleges who *need* these types of applicants ought to be putting significant effort into making a good impression with their tour guides.

    We visited one small private college that I thought would be a perfect fit for my S, as I had previewed it when in the area for other reasons, and from what I had read, is in need of full-pay applicants. On our visit, there were two students presenting at the info session who my S later summed up as "outlandish" in both appearance and personal goals. The other two students who led us on our tour were attired in old rubber flip flops and cut off jeans shorts for one, and swim trunks, an old T-shirt and dirty tennis shoes for the other. The contrast between the visitors (who obviously had made efforts to look presentable) and the student guides was striking. The campus was gorgeous. My S refused to apply.
  • NewHavenCTmomNewHavenCTmom Registered User Posts: 2,022 Senior Member
    Interesting thread,

    I read somewhere on a website, which is geared towards campus admissions professionals that each adcom should take a tour with the tour guides. As they are often times the most important piece of the admissions puzzle so to speak. The tour can either make a kid want to apply or not. As I am sure your mothers have told you, "first impressions can be a lasting impression, oft times, the only impression." I wish I had saved the article and posted it here. It was a very interesting read.

    FWIW, PTON had an amazing tour guide. She was just lovely, patient, waited for the huge group to catch up before speaking, answered all questions as well as she could and if she couldn't, she said she promised to find the answer for us, she was very professional in her dress and in the way she comported herself and was very enthusiatic/knowledgable about the campus, classes, etc... And she was a freshman. So again, adcoms should go out with the tour guides to see how they are representing the school. They are in essence the schools onsite advertising!!
  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom Registered User Posts: 4,461 Senior Member
    That's interesting...we encountered a tour guide at Princeton who was so pompous and strange that my daughter announced that she was no longer interested in applying when we got back to the hotel room that night. We had time the following morning, and Princeton doesn't require tour reservations in advance, so we went back the following morning and did the tour again with a different guide. You would think that we were at a different school the next day...this tour guide was interesting, friendly and great at answering questions. It was a good lesson in not putting too much weight on one weird tour guide.
  • StevmomStevmom Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    What time of year is the best time to tour a college?
    I have learned that we can't afford much beyond a CSU in California.
    What Calif. State Univ. is the least safe for my child to attend?
    Which CSU is the best school for a math major?
This discussion has been closed.