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Is this the place for me?

Summer college tours are in full swing. Across most university campuses, it is not hard to find large groups of young, curious faces following a designated school leader around a campus listening to a prepared spiel . It’s also not unusual to see a group of older adults (parents) trailing behind a few feet trying to look inconspicuous, yet wanting to hear every detail of what their son or daughter’s life will possibly be like if they choose this  institution.

Assuming all things equal on the big, critical parts of the campus tour: clear, designated parking, easy check-in, professional updated information packets, on-time departmental presentations, and clean nice-looking campus grounds, the following three elements were what the participants I spoke with remembered as elevating their campus tour experiences from mediocre to excellent.

1. Tour guides who present themselves as energetic, enthusiastic, and glad to be leading the tour, makes a big difference in the experience.

Most tour guides are members of leadership council groups and this is one of the expected roles in that position. Part of their training to be campus tour leaders should include the importance of how they lead and conduct these tours. They may be student leaders and very knowledgeable but it must show through in their presentations. Appearing tired, bored of giving the same tour spiel, dressed as if they just rolled out of bed, creates a negative picture of the institution. Many students have several choices they are considering of where to attend and the purpose of these tours is to help them make the best fit decision. It also creates an image of the university that makes a lasting impression whether they choose to attend this institution or not. Making the tour comfortable in the hot summer heat, speaking with voice inflection and loud enough for all to hear, showing energy in voice tone and body language, dressing appropriately, and portraying a positive image of the college is essential.

2. Colleges that give all the participants a free bottle of water before they head out trekking across the campus from building to building. It’s a small thing, but the participants who attended several college tours remembered which ones gave them water and which ones did not.

3. Tour guides that know where the shade from the sun is best and wait till they are able to get most tour participants in the shade before they give their longest dossier of information.

Moving from mediocre to excellent doesn’t have to be one big thing. Little things add up. It’s a battle worth winning. Join one of your campus tours this summer and observe through fresh eyes.

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