When I walk around campus during prime Campus Tour Season and encounter perky undergrad tour guides wearing OurU regalia and walking backwards in front of dazed pods of prospective students and parental types, I catch snippets of the tours, and I typically have the following thoughts:
If and when the time comes, years from now, my daughter will go on campus tours without her parents. My husband is even more tour-allergic than I am. I went on campus tours alone; she can go on campus tours alone. Or we can all skip the tours and just wander around campuses with a map.
WHO CARES WHEN THAT BUILDING WAS BUILT? I suppose the guides are supposed to fill the time by talking a lot and demonstrating cosmic knowledge of the institutions, and maybe some people do want to know when that building over there was built. I don't. This is one of many reasons why, as a parent, I plan to absent myself from this experience in the future unless my daughter insists or bribes me.
Are the tour guides instructed that it is better to MAKE UP factoids even if it means being wrong because all that matters is that the guide be a friendly, cheerful student who LOVES THIS UNIVERSITY and who can give "insider" tips about cool places to study and the best time to go to the rec center and where you can get the best pizza? When I encounter a tour pod outside a building with which I am familiar, I hear amazing things about what is supposedly going on in that building, when the building was built, and other random "facts" about buildings and departments. Does it matter? No, it does not, but I sometimes wonder whether any tour-goers ever later, as students, go by one of these campus building and think "Hey, we were told that this is the H. Morris Weeble Femtobiotechnology Education Center but it's actually the R. Doris Sneetch Kinetic Engineering Library and Cafe. Tour fail."
I am glad that there are students who want to do these campus tour jobs -- they are amazingly energetic and positive, and they do know a lot about the university. These are good things*. And yet, the thought of being in one of those tour groups fills me with existential dread, I know not why.
* There is a bizarre scene -- one of many -- in the recent Francine Prose novel, My New American Life, involving a campus tour and guide. Does anyone have an opinion on the best depiction of a campus tour in a novel?
10 months ago