College tour guides often have the power to put in a good (or bad) word about the prospective students they encounter; learn how to make them remember you when you visit.
Once you’ve compiled your list of schools, it’s time to take a campus tour. When you arrive at a school, the first people you will probably meet are the admissions receptionist and your tour guide. These two are very important people in terms of making a good impression.
Why? Believe it or not, the tour guide can sometimes offer information into prospective students’ files. And guess who she gives it to to put into your file? The front desk receptionist. Here’s how to help the people in the admissions office remember you…in a good way.
General Advice for Prospective Students
It’s very simple, but remember to Smile! (It’s so important, the word needs capitalization.) Generally, the receptionist will ask you to fill out an info form when you walk in, or to sign the guestbook.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either; admissions employees are there to help you, not intimidate you. Sometimes one of the receptionists will even be a student worker, so he or she is a great person to ask questions before you go on the tour.
When you meet your tour guide, look her in the eye, smile, introduce yourself, and give a firm handshake. Chances are she will, if she is a good tour guide, ask you some questions about yourself, like where you’re from and what kinds of things you’re interested in.
Give enthusiastic and specific answers. Don’t say something like, “Uh…I’m from the East Coast and I like sports,” say “I’m from (name of town and state/province) and I play soccer and am interested in sports medicine.” If you’re lucky, your tour guide will have some sort of related interest, but if not, it’s pretty much a guarantee that she knows someone who does.
What to Do During the Tour
If the tour guide gets an unresponsive, bored-looking group, she may start to get frustrated (but a good tour guide will never show it).
What’s going through her head? Something like, “Did somebody slip morphine into these peoples’ breakfasts this morning?” If the group doesn’t ask her questions and doesn’t react to what she’s saying, chances are she can’t wait for the tour to be over, and she’s also thinking, “When can I wrap this up so that I can meet my friends for lunch/finish my reading for class this afternoon/watch another episode of Gilmore Girls?”
Seriously, give these people the time of day. Often tour guides are volunteers, taking time out of their busy schedules because they like telling people about how fantastic their school is. So stand near the front of the group, ask questions, SMILE, and respond to what your guide says or does (i.e., if she says something intended to be funny, laugh).
If the student sees that she has an actual audience rather than a group of zombies, she will be more likely to play off of that and give you a much more enjoyable, entertaining, and memorable tour.
After Your Campus Tour
Thank the tour guide, and if you have time, stick around and ask her a few additional questions you may not have gotten to ask during the tour. Ask for her email address (or better yet, her campus address) so that you can send a quick thank-you note.
College students love getting campus mail, so sending your tour guide a quick card or note will help her remember you. She will most definitely mention that to someone in the admissions office, who will in turn make a note about it in your file.
So as long as you smile, show an interest in the school and in what your tour guide is saying, and take the time to thank her, you’re guaranteed to make a positive first impression at the school.