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Making Campus Tours Better

unlimitedxunlimitedx Registered User Posts: 3,007 Senior Member
edited June 2008 in Parents Forum
Hi Parents,

I work as a tour guide for my university. I wanted to make some improvements to my tours and I have a few questions.

1. what do you want to get out of a tour?
2. what is usually left out of the tour that you wanted to learn/know about?
3. if you were to receive a brochure about the university, what would you want to be in that brochure?

thank you!!
Post edited by unlimitedx on

Replies to: Making Campus Tours Better

  • vballmomvballmom Registered User Posts: 3,135
    Thanks for asking! What I'd like in a tour guide is someone who's candid, informed and articulate. What I'd like to get out of a tour might be different than what my high school sons would like, but here are some general thoughts for tour guides:

    - know your audience. If all high school students, then realize that they don't have much of an idea of what "Greek life" means and describe this a little (if you have Greek life on your campus).
    - answer the unasked questions. Most high school students want to know how intense the academics are, what the social life is like, and what a typical week in the life on campus might look like
    - be able to give useful information that might otherwise be buried on the back page of your school's website. For example, just what exactly is involved in the 4-year guaranteed plan? When will major X, Y or Z be available (if known)? How many students graduate in 4 years? What percent live on campus. Does this school have a commuter mentality (ie everyone goes back to hometown on weekends), or does the fact that 60% live off campus simply mean that there's not enough on-campus housing, and the campus really is active on weekends? Have you seen specific effects of the recent state budget cuts (for state Universities)? What is the school's written drug policy?

    What's usually left out of a tour is a peak into the dorm rooms, but this is understandable.

    If there's a session with an admissions counselor immediately after the tour, let everyone know what the timing will be and if there will be time to grab lunch (or not).

    Brochure - no thanks, I'd rather look at your school's web site. Make your website attractive, informative, and up-to-date (I've seen some appallingly bad ones recently).
  • historymomhistorymom Registered User Posts: 3,467 Senior Member
    I'm with vball mom. DD's didn't necessarily understand the jargon used by tourguides.

    If you don't know, say so. We had a tour guide tell us that the school had a 100% acceptance rate into a certain highly competitive post grad program. We later found out it was not true.
  • hikidshikids Registered User Posts: 1,284 Senior Member
    1. I think that training the tour guides really matters. Having been on numerous and seen them at my own institution, it can really matter. Poorly trained or poorly spoken guides that kind of fill in with made up stuff hurts the school.

    2. I think time for questions from the group limited to the academics, student life, the campus, and the town it's in. When walking around (no how do you judge folks for acceptance). A meeting as part of the tour that lets people ask the what does it take, how are the admission decisions made, etc. is also needed.
  • M's MomM's Mom Registered User Posts: 4,562 Senior Member
    Realize how much the tour guide influences the kids-many of them look at the guide and ask themselves, 'Do I like this person? Would I like to be around this person?' They assume you are 'typical' of the school's students. And a `bad' tour guide can mean your kid walks away saying, 'I'm not coming here.'

    Offer kids a choice of tour guides-you'd be amazed how often my kid 'switched' the tour group he was assigned to, because he felt more affinity with a guide that, based on 10seconds of introduction, seemed more like 'his type.'

    So...a sense of humor is critical, warmth and friendliness, enthusiasm for your subject area, love of the school, a willingness to admit that you don't know something (but will find out)-much more important than what you show us of the campus. That's all a blur by the end of the college tour anyway-it's his impression of you that lingers.

    Brochures aren't particularly worthwhile except for those of us who like to analyze marketing materials for the 'meta-messages' they are trying to convey. Your web site is much more important.
  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad Registered User Posts: 8,573 Senior Member
    There's another identical topic thread on CC you might want to try searching for to get more input.
  • mdcisspmdcissp Registered User Posts: 2,494 Senior Member
    My son is attending USC in the fall. He especially appreciated the hand written note sent to him after doing the tour thanking him for coming to see the university. This note was very impressive because it conveyed personal attention. USC was the only school which did this.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,718 Senior Member
    I don't want a handwritten note, but some kids did have a business card and/or gave out their e-mail addresses and invited kids to ask questions if they thought of anything else. The tour I enjoyed most was at Caltech which had a combination of great stories about pranks and traditions, gave a good sense of what parties at Caltech were like (because the elaborate props were still haning around), and also gave us some good insights into the nature of academics (how the honor code works with take home exams, what tests are like, study groups etc.) It's also a beautiful but blissfully small campus.
  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions Registered User Posts: 13,330 Senior Member
    Echoing ucsd: it's always good to first run a search for same topics.

    Replying here to your #1: I want the students to have their chance to ask questions. So when you feel that one parent is beginning to dominate the tour by asking you questions repeatedly, arguing or discussing, just say pointedly, "Thank you, I'll take the rest of your questions after the tour. Now, can we have some more questions from the students?" Refuse to make eye contact with or answer the domineering parent.

    Think about it; you are the only one in the position to do that, so use your power and consider all the families present.

    I also liked it when tourguides announced they were taking all the students aside for l0 minutes, without parents, to field questions.

    My favorite tourguide, in addition to walking backwards (!), stopped to participate for a few moments at an outdoor table where some current students were spreading peanut-butter sandwiches for a homeless shelter. My D could see that the guide found it impossible to walk by without helping. This expressed the social values of that particular school. If, while touring, you pass by something that is simply a natural part of your school's culture (cheering a team, helping a project for a few moments, giving someone directions, or whatever) and if you feel comfortable, it will mean a lot to students to witness your brief participation with others on campus. JMO.
  • papergirl2papergirl2 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Glad you asked...

    1. Keep the tour to one hour. People can only take in so much in information, any longer everyone starts to zone out. (I know, just got home from six...yes six...campus tours.
    2. Give out name, email address to kids on the tour for follow up questions.
    3. Don't assume we can hear you. When you walk forward, your voice does not carry to the people in the back.
  • corrangedcorranged Registered User Posts: 6,684 Senior Member
    Since a couple of posters have mentioned that they like guides to give out their names and email addresses, I just wanted to say that my college does not allow / strongly discourages tour guides from giving out their contact information. Not all prospective students are level-headed, and there can be issues with visiting students essentially stalking and harassing tour guides.
  • originaloogoriginaloog Registered User Posts: 2,645 Senior Member
    just be honest. Answer question directly and honestly. Point out both the good and the bad as you see it. Suggest that families wander around campus after the formal tour and not be hesitant to enter open academic buildings. Hand out a campus newspaper to all families in your tour group. Take their names/addresses and send them a thank you note.
  • riverrunnerriverrunner Registered User Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    Best comment by a tour guide (at Stanford!) "I don't know how I got in. I was really lucky. You don't have to have perfect stats. I didn't." Charming, funny, self-effacing guy. I know how he got in.
  • oregon101oregon101 Registered User Posts: 4,599 Senior Member
    I understand that it might not be safe for you to give out your personal e-mail and name-but your school could have an account for you to give to students and answer/contact them with a "nickname". We also changed "groups" depending on whether our D looked like a good match withn the guide. You have a huge amount of power just by your dress and talk and humor--and the fact that you asked this question makes me believe that you are going to do a fabulous job!
  • Jolynne SmythJolynne Smyth Registered User Posts: 2,714 Senior Member
    Agree to focus on the students. At almost every tour I've been on, it's been the parents who asked the questions (kids are shy, I guess). If you specifically ask: "So, do the students have any questions?" it might encourage them to express their interests/concerns.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,718 Senior Member
    At a number of schools we had tours given by pairs, (generally the second tourguide was learning or was the mentor), it was helpful getting two points of views, especially if they were from different departments.
This discussion has been closed.