For an hour and a half each week people are genuinely interested when I talk about myself.
Parents are hanging on my every word, ready to jump in with a question or comment, the prospective students are listening even though they may try to seem “too cool” and even the siblings along for the ride are curious.
In addition, I get to walk around campus backwards as if to say, “I know this place so well I can give you all of my attention,” my friends go out of their way to wave at me and even yell out about what an amazing person I am. It forces me to feel confident and energetic.
Also, for everyone in attendance, this is a special event. A college tour has been on their calendar for a week, at least. In fact, a parent might have taken off work for the tour or a student is missing a major test, just to listen to me speak.
During this time, activities and assets that have started to feel mundane, get new life. For example, having a full broadcast studio at my disposal has started to feel casual, but is always an impressive fact to note. It also makes me think about activities beyond my normal day-to-day scope like the latest production or recital.
Contrary to what some parents and prospective students think, when I end each tour I have to run to class or some meeting that will probably stress me out because of petty drama or assignments. It is just harder to feel like a big man on campus after I point the last family with some lingering questions towards my favorite lunch spot.
So, despite the helicopter parents, burnt out prospective students and the alumni that just want a trip down memory lane, being a tour guide is pretty fun.
In fact, the only time I feel uncomfortable or I have a bad tour is when parents forget I am a first and foremost a student and not only a tour guide. The questions about my social life and what I do on the weekends are easy, but the glares I get when I tell tour groups that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up or honestly answer a question with “I don’t know, but feel free to ask a fellow tour guide or admission officer when we get back,” after an extremely detailed question bother me.
I am just one undergraduate out of over 8,000 and therefore do not have all the answers to all the possible ways a college experience can go. While I am trained to know about other aspects of campus and highlights of different majors, I can not speak to the feelings behind being in an a capella group, I can talk about friends that are in a capella groups, but I haven’t done it all.
The reason I am giving you a tour and not an admission officer is because I want to offer you a student perspective on being a student at this college. I am not there to offer a cookie-cutter image of what you or your child will look like in two or three years if you attend my university. I am not an all knowledgeable being that can answer questions about your personal financial aid package. I am not someone that in any way can help your child through the admissions process. I am just a student that for an hour and a half a week really enjoys getting a chance to brag about my school and telling you about my life.Therefore, I want to ask parents and prospies embarking on college tours to just come along for the ride instead of thinking of this as an opportunity to talk about your application by asking about SAT/ACT or comparing your GPA to my high school GPA.
So go ahead and ask your awkward question about my social life, crack your favorite joke about the freshman 15 and take a ton of pictures of campus, but please let me do the guiding and don’t try to trip me up while I am walking backwards.