2 Suggestions for Campus Tours

Ideas for improving on a ritual.

February 25, 2014

Talk to any experienced parent of a prospective student about the campus tour ritual and you will get lots of advice.

I know, as before we left last week to accompany our daughter on her big college tour week I solicited lots of advice.

The number one thing that I heard, which I promptly and probably unforgivably ignored, was “Don’t give your opinion about the school unless the kid asks. They are going to college, not you, and they need to form their own opinions”.

Do you know how hard it is for someone who works in higher ed to follow that advice?

The second big piece of advice was, “Don’t try to do too much. The visits are exhausting, and the schools blend together, so try not to see more than one school in a day”.

We also largely ignored that advice. (Although having failed to heed this warning I can personally testify about the validity of the recommendation).

So I may be the last person in the world equipped to give admissions departments any advice about setting up their campus tours.  

But being good academic that I am, I would never let a lack of knowledge stand in the way of dispensing some unsolicited advice.

Suggestion 1 -  Turn Your Information Session Into a TED Talk:  

Your information session is too long. Too detailed. Too, well, too everything.  

What if you focused on creating an amazing 18 minute information session?  

Spend those 18 minutes talking about what makes your school distinctive.  

The advice that every admission counselor seems to give prospective students is to, “Show who you are, demonstrate what you are passionate about.”  

At that point the admissions counselors precedes to go totally against that advice, telling the prospective students and their parents the exact same thing that every other admissions counselor says at every other school.

Suggestion 2 - Separate the Kids and Parents:

Split up the kids and the parents at every opportunity. The information session and the campus tour.  

Why not segregate the parents, and then bring us to a place where we can sit in a quiet place (with no 16 year olds) and be given a nice glass of wine?  

Okay, maybe the vino and the quiet / happy room is a bad idea for the parents (we might never leave), but I’m sure that you can design a better info session and tour experiences if you split us up.

The reality is that our kids are much better people when they are not in our presence.  

They will ask good questions. They will be interested and engaged. They will rely on themselves to make decisions.  

They are going to be your problem in a couple of years, why not take them for a test run?

What are your campus tour suggestions?


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