By: Hailey Gilman
Admittedly, I was a bit of an overachiever when it came to looking for my perfect college. When everything was said and done, my family had taken part in 15 college tours and their respective information sessions!
Now, a Miami University Tour Guide, I feel as though I know the ins and outs of college tours: what to notice, what to ignore, and what to take away from each school you visit. College tours may seem trivial, but in my experience, a tour can hold the biggest impact on your opinion of a university.
Firstly, examine your tour guide. This sounds obvious, but your guide has more than likely been selected for their position by their school to represent a typical student. Of course, I don’t mean that every student attending said university is identical to your guide, but if your guide speaks of nothing but the hours they spend in the library, or a lack of campus unity, odds are, other students feel the same. Is your guide enthusiastic? Do they seem proud, pumped, and full of pride for their university? The best tours I’ve experienced always included a happier than average guide, for they know more than any other what makes a school a home.
Also, pay attention to the passing students. As college kids walk by, look closely. Do they seem happy? Can you see yourself fitting in amongst them? No matter a school’s fancy credentials, I guarantee your college experience will be made by the peers that surround you, and if you feel comfortable and at ease during your tour, you’ll most likely feel perfectly at home at said university.
Take note of what your tour guide mentions and what they leave out. Have you seen a university dorm room? Did you get to walk through a dining hall? Did you guide discuss campus safety or weekend fun? Perhaps your tour guide, is only discussing studying and the libraries, because there isn’t much to do on campus. In my opinion, the best guides give the most thorough tours they can with the time allotted. They should also try to stay away from stating facts and figures, as most statistics can be learned from pamphlets or information sessions, and their tours focus on campus life, their own experiences, and what makes their university different or unique from other learning institutions.
Of course, the biggest bit of advice I can offer as a guide is to ask questions! Guides love them! They make our tours more interesting and allow us to give our own opinions about the school we love so much! Trust me, I’ve seen tons of embarrassed high schoolers in tour groups, lurking in the back, ducking out of sight when their parents raise their hands. And I was one of those kids. But now I fully appreciate questions. As tour guides, we may be the only student that you come in contact with on your campus visit, and we’ve elected to represent our university. We’re here for you. It may seem insignificant initially, but parking, weekends, safety, dorm life, and school spirit can be very important during your time in college. Remember, you’re going to be spending four years of your life in this place, make sure you love your college choice!