College Tour Guides: Stealing Now Acceptable
by CeCe Bazar | Filed Under Lessons
June 11, 2012 —
I started my admissions career in the fifth grade. I hosted students who came to visit my very small community-oriented middle school, and led them around from class to class letting them in on the daily life of a Providence Country Day student. In sixth grade I made the big jump from host to tour guide, a role I stayed in through my senior year of high school. In my eight years at the school I toured around countless families and perfected the art of walking backwards while talking (a challenging task for a usually clumsy and accident-prone young girl).
When I left for college, I knew that I wanted to continue to work as an ambassador for my new home-away-from-home. I was very proud to be a Bantam, loved being in front of a crowd, and enjoyed being a liaison for students who were going through the college search process, as I so recently had. That is how I decided to become a Trinity College tour guide.
Now with the summer tour season underway I decided to pull together a list of tips for all of the tour guides who are perfecting their backward walk this summer!
Steal your friends’ jokes
When you start giving tours, you are most likely going to be paired with someone else who has a bit more experience. They will have stories to share and jokes to tell. Steal those. If they continue to tell them, they are obviously working. And yes, you should try to come up with your own material, but if you can’t don’t be shy about plagiarizing a few one-liners! And remember — if no one laughs, laugh at yourself!
Suggest restaurants in the area
Most colleges have a list for prospective families of suggested restaurants around campus. A great tour guide goes above and beyond this list by “dishing” out (pun intended!) their favorite near-campus eateries. This will earn you bonus points and keep your visitors happy and full when they are reflecting on their visit.
Don’t wear clothing from another school
This may be a given, however I would be remiss if I did not say it: do not wear clothing from another college! It reflects poorly upon you and your school. Yes, we all know that you collected a ton of paraphernalia when you did your own campus tours, but let’s leave that to this year’s high school students. Similarly, don’t disparage other schools, and avoid comparing your school to rival schools.
Talk about your own experience
Whether you are telling stories about studying abroad, your first day on campus, or your most memorable football game, make sure to highlight your own experience! Every student has already heard on other college tours that student IDs can be used on your campus to open doors and pay for laundry, and that at any point on campus you should be able to see at least one blue light security system. What they haven’t heard is your unique experience with your institution and more importantly WHY you chose to go there.
Don’t deflect, direct.
When awkward questions come along, don’t deflect them, direct them to the appropriate person. “That is a great question, I would be happy to introduce you to an admissions officer who can best answer it!” And remember, when it comes to your own personal business (i.e. student loans or SAT score) never feel obligated to answer! Keep it general and “guide” them to another resource!
Turn your phone off
When you start out your tour, you may want to suggest that your visitors turn off their phone. Then go ahead and turn yours off as well. No one needs to hear your Skrillex ringtone in the middle of a tour.
Perfect the art of the “Welcome”
Before kicking off your tour always remember to introduce yourself and set a positive tone! If you want to encourage questions (and trust me — you do) make sure to do so at the beginning of your time with the families. It is always a nice touch to have the students introduce themselves. If they show in an interest in a particular program, try to remember it! This way, when you get to that portion of the tour you can direct the conversation toward them personally.
Offer up yourself as a resource in the college admissions process.
If you are a student tour guide, chances are that you went through the admissions process pretty recently. If you connect with a family (especially when groups are small), offer yourself as a resource for the process. This does not have to be “sales-y” on behalf of the school, rather just shows the character of you as a person and the students on campus.
Admissions officers, feel free to share these tips with your Summer and Fall tour guides! And tour guides, feel free to send along some of your tips and stories as well!
Also, keep your eyes peeled! You never know when your tour is going to be rated by these girls!