College Tours

Have been on college tours with #2 son for a few days.  Interesting.  Saw a few that really do it right, a few that were OK but not great, and one that was just awful.  Meaning, the presentation and tour really did the college and its campus a disservice.

Tips for college administrators and admissions counselors, from a parent:

  1. We all know your college is overpriced, you all do it on purpose, so ANYTHING you say about the cost is disgusting.  We can all see the construction on every single campus and we know that we and our kids are financing this spree.  Keep that talk to a minimum in the presentation and get into the nitty gritty one on one.
  2. I want to know what your goals are and what you are all about as a community, and how it relates to the kids and their college experience.  Who are you?  What does success for the kids look like to you?  Hobart and William Smith Colleges did a particularly outstanding job of this with their tagline “Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence,” and associated presentation.
  3. Please make sure your student tour leaders are fit for duty.  You should have a bullet point list of things they need to touch on.  I don’t care if they carry it with them.   Remember that to us, these kids are the face of your school.  So choose the ones that you think really represent what your school is all about, because it’s all we have to go on for a first impression.  Also be certain the rooms they will show us are open and clean.  It’s ridiculous that I would have to say that.
  4. There’s a reason most of the colleges start with a presentation then do a tour.  If you do the presentation info during the tour, then the tour should be with an admissions professional, not a student.  I don’t want answers that start with “I think” or end with “I guess.”
  5. As a parent, I want to know how you will help my child succeed.  And I want to know what that looks like to you.  Obviously, it must include a diploma, so how will you help my kid if he stumbles?  Will anyone even know before he’s flunked out?  What if he turns out to be a superstar?  Can you make sure his schedule is challenging enough?  Does your vision of success include employment?  Internships?  Study abroad?  Tell me about all the options and how you guys make it work for each kid.

College years are transformational in all our lives, whatever we do with them.  I think that what I want for my kid is what most parents want.  That is, I would like to see my immature boy learn how to be a grown up.  How to find his own way and learn.  How to be responsible and take care of himself as well as help those around him.  How to be part of a community, make friends, network.  Learn some marketable skills so he can support himself and his family.  Learn how to be flexible in this economy that seems to change faster and faster.   Ideally, I would like to see him maybe discover some new things he’s passionate about.

What I want from a college tour is to see the part that each college thinks they play in that transformation.

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