As a Tufts Tour Guide, I have had the chance to observe what makes a tour really engaging and enjoyable, and conversely what makes a tour seem long and tiresome. During my tours, I can’t help but think back to when I was a prospective student not long ago (always somehow cradling an umbrella in one hand and a pen and pad in the other while touring schools in the pouring March rain). I wish I could offer my high school self some of the tips I have since learned while giving Tufts tours. So this is the next best thing I can offer…
A Tour Guide’s Guide to Tours
1. Ask questions!
Tufts tour guides love answering prospective students’ questions (it’s likely why we decided to become tour guides). If you don’t want to ask in front of the entire group, feel free to walk with the guide between stops and have a one-on-one conversation then. Please don’t be afraid to ask your tour guide those tough questions as well, tour guides at Tufts are encouraged to be honest and speak our minds about both positive and negative aspects of the school. Tours are your chance to hear a student’s perspective, questions make a tour far more interesting as well as make it easier for the guide to share more in depth information.
2. Wear good walking shoes
College tours are not the time to break in your brand new shoes. Some days can be wet and a bit muddy, and you will be far happier on our hill in a good pair of shoes. This also extends to wearing a proper gear for the weather. Definitely pack a rain coat or outer layer just in case the weather changes. While touring schools on a beautiful sunny day is ideal, I firmly believe that if you can fall in love with a school in the pouring rain, you will love it any day.
3. Write down a couple notes during the tour
During the college search process, it is likely that you will tour several schools. When it comes time to write your application essays and decide which to apply to, having some notes, and maybe pictures, to look back on can be very helpful to remember each experience. Focus your notes on the overall impression you got during your visit. Try not to get too caught up in the facts and statistics, you can likely find those on the website later, the anecdotes and stories you hear will be much more impactful in the long run.
4. Walk around campus by yourself after the tour
While your tour guide will do their best to take you into buildings and portray what day-to-day life looks like, it can be helpful to walk around and experience it for yourself after the tour. I recommend having a coffee in the campus center’s The Rez, stretching out on the president’s lawn, taking a look at gym, or grabbing a bite to eat in one of the dining halls. Don’t be afraid to speak with a random student or professor as well, unless they are in the middle of something most are more than happy to chat with a perspective student.
5. Come with an open mind
I cannot possibly stress this enough: please visit with an open mind about a university. If you come in with certain expectations, perhaps influenced by your parents or siblings’ opinions, you may miss out on hearing the great aspects of a school. Or perhaps you have heard a family member’s alma mater hyped up your entire life, but when you take a deeper look you may realize it’s just not for you. While doing research prior to a visit is great, please note that many opinions out there are just that, opinions, and may not accurately reflect the current student experience. At Tufts, I would recommend trying to feel the general vibe and atmosphere here; see if you can picture yourself walking to class on the quad or hanging out on Tisch Roof, this is what will stick with you. In the end, your college search is not about finding the right school for your parents, your siblings, or your friends; it’s about finding the right fit for YOU.