Praise be to the gods of higher education! I have gone on my last college tour, or to more accurately describe it — a death march. In fact, I would like my obituary to read: “and during her parenting years Sherry Kuehl heroically survived more than 23 college tours.”
Holy mother of tuition why haven’t schools come up with a better way to do the campus show and tell? Why haven’t they asked parents, like me, to assist them in upping their game to make it less miserable?
You know what, forget about waiting to be asked. I’m right now going to do a public service and offer up some suggestions for increasing the quality and enjoyment factor of the college tour.
Let’s begin with one word: Snackage. I’m not saying colleges should feed the hordes that come for a lookie loo. What I’m saying is, “Hello, how about some hospitality in the form of a cold bottled water to prepare you for your two-hour hiking expedition.”
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I’ve looked at schools on both coasts and pretty much almost everywhere in between and the only colleges that offered anything in the way of hydration and a nosh were the Texas schools. I’d like to think it’s because the schools’ admission departments are run by Texas mamas who would rather surrender their life-long subscription to Southern Living than not have a little something out for their guests.
Kill the power point. Most college tours start with what I call the Power Point Presentation of Doom. The standard procedure is that you get herded into a room where a perky admissions representative begins a Power Point lecture that lasts at least 30 minutes. My problem with this is that all the information that is being READ ALOUD to you verbatim from the screen is all online and in most cases copied and pasted from the school’s website.
If the student and a parent are so lackadaisical in the college information-gathering process that they have yet to do any online research about the campus they’re about to tour, then to that I say: Don’t make the rest of us suffer and offer a remedial class. Also, if I worked in college admissions I would give everyone a quick 10 question test about the university and use it as a weed-out. If someone fails thus demonstrating a total lack of curiosity or any sort of pre-campus tour prep work I would give their application a big old “no thanks.”
Have three tour groups. Every college tour has three groups of parents:
Group One. Parents who love to ask questions that are prefaced with an overbearing brag about their child as in “My daughter got a 36 on her ACT so I was wondering if there’s a dorm area for kids with higher IQs?”
Group Two: Parents and children who are so busy recording every facet of the tour that they start directing people to get out of their shot. This also includes parents kicking it old school who are literally writing down everything the guide says up to and including stopping the tour to ask the guide for the correct spelling of a horse featured in a statue. (Yes, this happened, and the mother and her son had matching red composition notebooks.)
Group Three: Parents and their children who aren’t crazy.
By dividing up the groups the braggers would get to enjoy incessantly interrupting the tour guide while one upping each other for two plus hours. Meanwhile the journaling for posterity group could, without shame, drag out the tour as they write a novel or a record a documentary of the experience.
This leaves the not crazies to stoically follow their campus host and with minimal questions, knock a good 45 minutes off the tour or even allow for some sort of bathroom break.
The good news is these suggestions are immediately doable! The better news is I don’t have to go on another college tour.