Rethinking the College Tour

In The Wall Street Journal’s recent article “Oh, No Not Another College Tour!” Sarah Lawrence College professor Marek Fuch writes about the numerous college visits that have students “lacing up for another amble around another campus, members of an endless string of silent, sullen parades seen across America these days, all led by a backward-walking guide who’s making rehearsed gestures to the left and right.”

Marek explains the how college visits become a blur and the tours at each college become blended in one’s brain. After numerous college visit by the smiling tour guides, Marek explains that each tour begins to sound like a song: “[W]e have fresh produce from local farmers…We have 3 different libraries all with great resources…Our classes have great student-to-professor ratios.”

Marek states, “Tours are the first big point of contact for child and parents. The stakes are high for all, including the schools, which seem to live and die on how their applicant-pool numbers affect the latest round of college rankings.”

Marek provides some great ideas to improve the tours in a four-step process: first, don’t let parents and kids go on the  same tour. Second, let the tours come out at night. Third, use random tour guides and fourth, allow anonymous questions.

These steps will enable students who are touring to understand and get a true feel for the college Marek explains. He believes that the way the colleges are handling these tours does not stand out and that to truly grasp, understand and get a feel for a college, kids and parents need to be separated on tours so that no questions go unanswered.

Another concern is that many kids can’t even afford to go on college tours. Money is a huge worry for parents and children. The main question: how to pay for college? But one must get into college and know that it is the right fit before paying, so the second question is, “how am I going to visit the college if I can’t afford to buy a plane ticket or to drive across the country?”

One article in U.S. News, called “Visiting College Campus from Home,” explained how many colleges now have virtual tours. This is a new adaption colleges have done for people who can’t visit colleges for different reasons. Another way to get a feel for a college is through contact with the student body itself, meaning if one knows of a student or a friend attending a college of interest, they are a good resource to contact and ask questions.

A different way of handling the college process is prospective students only visiting nearby colleges and then applying to other colleges that caught their eye or sparked their interest.This then leads to a student waiting for acceptance letters and going to visit once they have been accepted. This enables children and parents to not have to go twice to a school and spend extra money. Many people are realizing college cost are rising tremendously and are taking about the smallest ways to save up.

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