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?
12 years ago
This was not a campus tour per se but White House... but it's from the movie "Dave" - "we're walking, we're walking"...
Femtobiotechnology sounds like something to get involved in. Kinetic Engineering is so passe.
I have once or twice interrupted a tour guide to correct something he or she said when it was wrong and might lead to difficulties if a future student believed it. The corrections were accepted graciously. I have often wondered whether a professor's taking time to stop and do this made a good or bad impression on the people on the tour.
One of our faculty overheard a tour guide say there were no graduate programs on that particular undergraduate campus of the university...right outside our science building where I was earning my PhD. Awesome.
I know someone who snorts loudly when walking by a campus tour guide who is saying something really wrong and bizarre (astrology instead of astronomy is the worst, but confusing geography and geology also gets a snort). I don't think this leaves the best impression on the tour group or guide.
Other than the fact that there are occasional errors in the info provided, which is inevitable, you really haven't given any reason for your bizarre, rabid raving against campus tours. Don't find them interesting? Fine, don't go on them. No reason to foam at the mouth and put down the poor students who are working to recruit others to support *your* paycheck.
One of my best friends in college was a history major who made a hobby of researching and refuting false claims by tour guides.
He's a history professor now; I should ask him what he thinks of the tour guides at his institution.
I was on a campus tour as a prospective student many years ago, and the tour guide said "In this building is Sociology, Biology, and all of the other Ologies." My father, an organic chemist who was on the tour with me, was unable to suppress his laughter.
I didn't even apply to that school.
I'm often tempted to correct guides. I work in a library, and I often hear tour guides just saying, "You can get books here", or at the worst, "I just use google". You'd think the library would get a better spiel.
@ Anon 11:48:00 AM:
We both know FSP's bulk salary comes from research grants -- which is why she is awesome enough to make fun of these silly tour guides.
some people set the bar really low for "foam at the mouth". wow
from the post: 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
from a comment: No reason to foam at the mouth and put down the poor students
yet another commenter projecting their own issues?
As a former tour guide who went on to become a FSP as well, I would say the training tour guides receive depends on how coveted a job it is on campus. Many of these students volunteer (on my campus we were paid and went through long training sessions and "continuing education" every quarter). If professors and administrators were willing to sit down with tour guides and talk to them about facts they wanted to make sure tourists heard (and learn more about the job, which is a difficult one), I'm sure that would be well-received. Try contacting the person in charge of the guides.
I love the tours! I went on a campus tour after my sophomore year *at that university* because I was feeling nostalgic about the process. The route and part of the script was the same as when I had taken the tour 3 years earlier, and it reminded me of my first (very positive) impressions of the space.
I was however disappointed that when we walked by the building that contains the lab I work in, they told the same very stupid (and very not true) story about it that I remember them telling on my original tour!
@Anon 01:20 - We know that FSP teaches a lot. Therefore her salary cannot be 100% from research grants. It's likely that she is on a 9-month university appointment and that grants pay for her salary only about 2-3 months per year.
To spice up one of the campus tours at UndergradU some friends and I dressed up as ninjas and hijacked one of the tour guides (she was in on the joke). Then another friend basically popped out of the bushes and continued the tour. The same thing was repeated later in the tour with pirates, and the original tour guide reappeared.
The touring students and parents appreciated the theater.
For undergraduates at my U, it was common practice to walk by tour groups and engage in very loud conversation about the realities of college life...drinking, bad food, non-A/C dorm rooms, etc. Maybe not good for PR, but some reality for the tourists.
I don't hate tours but they seem like the province of a middle class, privileged lifestyle. Those not going "away", those whose parents can't afford the trip ahead of time, those transferring in from a community college etc.
I used to give tours at my university and even though we were all volunteer the training was pretty extensive. I think it took almost 2 months before we were allowed to even go out giving tours, and even then we had to go out with more experienced guides for a couple of co-tours before we were left on our own.
As far as the content on tours, we were given all kinds of information about the buildings and programs when we started but I very rarely used any of it when giving tours. I agree with you that it doesn't really matter when a building was built. I usually didn't even spend much time covering what was in each building, but rather tried to get to know the students and talk about the programs they were interested in.
If you and your husband don't want to go on the tours, I don't see any problem there but I would encourage your daughter to go on a tour rather than just wander around with a map. You can always do that in the afternoon once the tour is over. I would encourage you and your husband to talk with your daughter about questions she may want to ask while on tour, especially if she hasn't done any before, because it can be hard to come up with questions on the spot and it's so much easier as a tour guide to answer real questions. (I used to make up questions when my tour groups couldn't come up with anything, and those tours never went as well as the ones with lots of questions)
Post a Comment