As a Student Admissions Representative at the University of West Florida, my job is to help prospective students find out how to make their splash. I conduct phone calls, assist in the visitor center, and give tours. Giving a campus tour is more than just repeating a script, it’s about connecting on a deep level in short amount of time and shaping someone’s future. After three years, I have picked up on a few tips:
Make sure everything you say is true. It’s awkward to be confident about your library being opened until 3:00 a.m., just for the librarian to correct you. Practice makes perfect. If you are nervous about remembering facts, ask a friend to quiz you.
It’s fine not to know everything. Most college students couldn’t tell you how many acres that their campus sits on. However, if you don’t know it, don’t say it. Don’t start guessing numbers or facts, because it’s obvious when you are racking your brain. If someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t make it up! A simple “I can look it up after the tour for you!” is more than enough, and shows your willingness to accommodate.
Something weird can and will happen on your tour. I have had parents scream at me for not working to convince their child to pursue a certain major. I have had a high schooler from the area ask me to bring him to the next college party. I have had a World War II vet refuse to take special accommodations, and fall on my walking tour.
Something unexpected is always going to be around the corner to break up the monotony of your tours. It’s impossible to be prepared for some of the things you may experience, but it’s paramount that you be flexible. Always have your phone on you to call your supervisor if things get out of hand or if someone trips and gets a concussion. Be patient with those parents who seem to be the angriest at you, and it will often turn out to be a rewarding experience.
Tell Personal Stories
There is nothing like a good personal story to make someone feel comfortable around you. When painting the picture of the university experience to people who have never been a part of it before, details are vital. What better way to commit to a story than to make it yours?
Share a story about a time that a professor or class truly impacted you. It’s nothing special when I tell my tour guests about a professor’s open office hours, until I sprinkle my tale into it. I always share the tale of my first visit to an office hour my freshman year. I tell students that I went to his office, and just started crying because I was struggling in his course, and that he made me tea to calm me down. I tell them how every semester afterwards, even though I am not enrolled in any of his courses, I come to him for tea-time and life advice. These stories not only break the ice, but they humanize the experience, helping these students to envision themselves at my university.
As important as it is to tell stories and to be knowledgeable, telling my stories would not do any good for you at your university. The most important thing in a tour is to be genuine. Tell your own story about your college experience. If your coworker has a joke that always kills it, don’t stress out on making your own joke up, or landing it perfectly. Just tell your story, and people will fall in love with school that you love.
How to Make Prospective Students Fall in Love With Your University