A campus tour can be the pivotal moment in a student's decision to attend a university or continue the search for something he likes better. Tour guides, as their schools' ambassadors, have a lot of responsibility to do the best job they can giving students and their families a terrific first impression of the college.
Plan Your Route
The route you choose for your tour group can make or break the experience. Every campus has its scenic spots and its less savory areas. Instead of marching parents and high school students by the Dumpsters, stick close to manicured gardens and volleyball or tennis courts when possible. Try to avoid any ongoing construction sites, too. Bright orange fences and men in hardhats don't have the same cachet as ivy-covered brick buildings. Consider traffic: Crossing busy streets can cause awkward pauses in the tour and leave parents and students bored. Keep things running smoothly by avoiding high-traffic areas.
Keep It Personal
The college application process, with all those grade reports and obnoxious forms, can make students feel like a number. As a tour guide, aim to personalize each student's experience of the college. Start by learning and remembering each name. "Forbes" suggests that by repeating a name as soon as you hear it, you're more likely to recall it later. Ask students and parents what got them interested in your school. As you move through the tour, point out the chemistry building to the student who's interested in science. Make special note of the athletic complex for the big football fan. Personalizing the tour will make it a more memorable and positive experience for students.
Know Your Talking Points
As a tour guide, you don't need to memorize a long, complicated script, but you should have a solid outline of what you plan to say. By doing so, you can make sure to cover all the vital points on campus while making room for asides and unexpected questions. Improve your memory of your spiel by associating key anecdotes with campus landmarks. For example, use the statue of a former college president as a cue to tell your story about a physics professor who's popular with students. Whenever you lead a group past the statue, you'll remember the story.
One of the most important skills for a tour guide is the ability to answer questions with positivity and enthusiasm, according to the University of California at Riverside. Even if you're having a tough week in class and just got in a fight with your roommate, you can't let those challenges and stresses interfere with your job of portraying the school in a positive light. Focus on setting aside your personal problems and improving your mood before every tour. Consciously prepare to behave as a professional for your public relations work.
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