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9 Things NOT to Do on a College Tour

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The college decision process isn’t over yet, pre-collegiettes! As the application period ends and the acceptances start rolling in, it’s time to make the final decision: which school will you attend?

One good way to help narrow down your list of potential colleges is to visit each school. College tours can help you gather a general idea of life at a university, including what the students are like, where the buildings are located and more.

While a leisurely stroll around campus seems simple, there are still a few rules for college tours. We talked to some student tour guides to learn what they expect from students on tours. Here are a few things you should NOT do when touring a college campus!

1. Let your parents take charge

It’s easy to trail behind the group and let your parents pester your tour guide with their questions, but do your best to take full advantage of your tour time. You’re there to experience the campus, and this may be your only chance to do so before you make your big decision. The tour guide is there to answer any of your questions, so take advantage of his or her help!

Nicole Knoebel, a junior and student tour guide at Marist College, says that one of her biggest pet peeves is when pre-collegiettes let their parents do all the talking. “On a college tour, you're preparing to make one of the biggest decisions of your life,” she says. “Take control and make sure you get the info that you need to make the right decision for you, not your parents.”

If you’re shy and a little too intimidated to ask questions in front of the whole group, approach your tour guide while you’re walking from one building to another. This way, you can have a quick one-on-one chat without interrupting the tour or putting yourself on the spot.

2. Interrupt the tour guide

On the other hand, you may be bursting with questions, but make sure you’re not overstepping your boundaries. Tour guides are there to help you, but they also have set schedules they need to stick to. Stephanie Tate, a senior and student tour guide at Arizona State University, recommends holding your questions until the end of the tour. “[Tour guides] will definitely ask for [them],” she says. “If you’re patient, they may answer your question [during the tour] without you having to ask.”

3. Dress inappropriately

You may want to impress your potential fellow students with your keen fashion sense, but trust us: you’ll want to trade in those heels for a comfy pair of sneakers. “You'll be walking outside, up stairs, over potentially muddy sidewalks and usually in weather less than tropical, so save the miniskirts and pumps for another time,” says Corinne Weaver, a sophomore and student tour guide at West Virginia Wesleyan College. “Dressing up or dressing scandalously can give those you meet on campus (like professors!) and other potential students a bad first impression.”

It’s not a crime to look cute, but make sure you’re comfortable (and professional!) so you can fully enjoy your tour and put your best foot forward.

4. Get distracted

Put your smartphone away when you’re on a tour! “One thing that rubs me… the wrong way is when people have their phones out on tour,” says Megan Galema, a junior and student ambassador at William Paterson University.

Looking at your phone or talking to your friend implies that you’re uninterested in the tour and probably the school itself. Tour guides have taken the time out of their days to share their advice and experiences with you, so give them your full attention out of respect. Plus, being attentive to the tour will help you make a more informed decision when you have to!

Our advice? Turn your phone on silent and catch up with your friends on the ride home instead.

5. Invade the tour guide’s privacy

Though you’re perfectly allowed—and even welcomed—to ask guides about their personal college experiences, there is a line, and you should be careful not to cross it. “Don’t ask for the tour guide’s GPA, or really for any academic information, like grades or SAT scores,” says Julia Kennedy, a senior and student ambassador at the University of Portland. “It makes [him or her] super uncomfortable, and honestly, it's not in their job description to tell you every little thing about how they got into the university or how well they are doing now.”

It’s perfectly fine to ask a guide about her own thoughts and feelings toward the school and her own experiences, but steer clear of asking about her grades, sex life and anything else that’s really personal.

6. Be shy

Sure, a college environment can be quite intimidating, but this is your chance to really experience the feel of a college campus. Do your best to avoid clinging to your family the whole time and try to meet new people. “Introduce yourself to other students in your tour group,” Stephanie suggests. “They're just as nervous as you are, and you might end up making a good friend!”

7. Argue with the tour guide

The tour guides have been specifically taught to give students certain (correct) information, so trust them on it! Jordan Sypek, a junior and student tour guide at the University of Tampa, says that a number of people have argued with the tour guides at her university about facts they didn’t think were correct. “As tour guides, we never tell false information because we are trained to know everything about the school,” Jordan says.

8. Talk the school down

No matter what your opinions are of the university before you visit, remember that you’re there to learn more about the school and its positive attributes.Some things that rub me the wrong way are when prospective students say something like ‘Yeah, well, this is kinda a safety school for me anyway,’ or when people ask me for my specific SAT/ACT scores and then try to compare it with theirs,” says Devon Ziminski, a junior and ambassador at the College of New Jersey.

If you’re visiting a school, you must have some interest in it or some reason for taking a tour, so focus on those reasons. Even if the school you’re touring isn’t high up on your list of colleges, still give it a chance, or at least be polite to those who have chosen it.

9. Walk out in the middle of it

One of the rudest things you could do is walk out in the middle of your tour. Even if you decide that the college isn’t the right fit, the least you can do is stick it out for another half hour. “It's rude if you just drop off in the middle of the tour, and it shows that you don't care about the university or learning about it,” Julia says.

If you have something planned and have good reason to leave early, let your tour guide know in advance. Otherwise, stick it out and avoid being disrespectful.

Avoid these mistakes and your tour should go smoothly and successfully! Our advice for what to do? Go into the campus tour with an open mind and tons of questions. Tour guides will most likely to be eager to answer anything you ask about various majors, academics and just college life in general (just don’t get too personal!). Tours are a chance for you to learn the little details about the school that might influence your decision to attend, so make sure you take advantage of the opportunity! 


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