Arts & Culture

5 Truths about College-Touring

By: Gabrielle L. (’18)

College tours may be a lot of fun and a great experience, but they can also involve a lot of effort and work. From my own experience recently, this effort entailed catching 5 planes in a span of 4 days and attending countless info-sessions with the obligatory corny jokes and undeniably similar advice on applications; touring institutes of higher education is definitely both a noteworthy and stressful experience. Keep reading to find out 5 things that all students who have gone on college tours know to be true!

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1)After you’ve gone on more than three campus tours, you begin to notice that the jokes told by admission officers are not as imaginative and quirky as you originally thought.

After a couple of tours, you realize that those corny jokes told to captivate your attention are reused time and time again by info-session speakers. For example, universities on either side of the country used the ‘fun’ anecdote of the student who submitted some crazy number of recommendation letters, like 22, and still was denied admission, seeking to prove their point that less is sometimes more. I guess it is possible that this student happened to apply to all three of these geographically-dispersed universities, but it may also  be a bit of a ‘tall tale’ told for dramatic effect.

2) No, the famous library or dining hall of *blank* university does not look like Hogwarts!

It seems that cheerful tour guides consider this a great incentive to attend their university, but it does seem to be a stretch when you are assured that sitting in their fluorescently-lit cafeteria makes them feel like Harry Potter. Although there are some pretty amazing buildings on campuses, this usually isn’t the primary factor students consider when searching for the perfect fit.

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Duke University Chapel, which does in fact bear a strong resemblance to a building from Hogwarts!

3) You can tell a lot about a school by the tour-guides.

While some students will blow your mind with their poise, eloquence, and tales of excelling at organic chemistry , others may leave you wondering why you came  and make  you feel that the college just isn’t for you. Although these experiences can sometimes fail to live up to expectation, keep in mind that all information is good information. Even if you don’t find a place you like, you may gain a stronger sense of what you are looking for and what you are eager to avoid. Also try to remember that a book should never be judged by its cover: student tour guides or ‘coffee and chat’ ambassadors represent  merely one snapshot view of the overall student body and school atmosphere. If the tour guide or ambassador really seems off, it may be worth hanging around the dining hall or student union to get more of a feel for what other students are like. And, you can always call a former Crystal student to ask for the inside scoop!

“Again, speaking with current students and maybe sitting in and observing a class or two will provide you with a more realistic understanding of what goes on.”

4)Most tour-guides will assure you that classes are small and professors care about each and every student!

Of course this may be a reality at some colleges, and it goes without saying that some colleges will allow for more direct interactions with professors and in-class participation opportunities than others. Nonetheless, it seems that tour guides are specifically trained to emphasize the class-size cap and their experience with professors who actually cared. Again, speaking with current students and maybe sitting in and observing a class or two will provide you with a more realistic understanding of what goes on.

5) Successfully completing a week of college tours is no small feat!

Hour-long walking tours in the spring heat (or cold for those of us who visited the east coast this spring break) can really tire you out. Experienced college tour survivors recognize the importance of wearing shoes that won’t make you cry out in pain halfway through a tour. And what a relief to be finally able to sit down and rest your feet for a while in a campus coffee shop or back in your hotel room. The survivors will also know that distinctive feeling when a school really sparks your interest, and  the sinking realization that you should perhaps run away as fast as you can. This is all fine!

After all, college touring is all about getting a feel for where you can see yourself spending the next four years of your life. And, in my case, as someone who has just moved back to the United States, it was a good excuse to visit some interesting cities and play tourist for a while as well. Happy touring!

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