College Tour Guides: A Brief Sociological Study

College Tour Guides: A Brief Sociological Study June 29, 2012

OK.  I only have an N of 5.

But we just finished our 2nd round of college tours, this time in Philadelphia with friends.  Our crowd included my 2 girls, a rising junior and freshman, my friend Mona, and her 2 daughters, a rising sophomore and freshman who are also my girls’ oldest friends.  We visited University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore and Villanova.

After visiting Northwestern and University of Chicago last trip sans friends—let me tell you it’s a lot more fun with friends—for kids and moms.

Having attended 5 tours with 5 different tour guides, my inner sociologist can’t help noticing some tour guide trends.  Here are some random stats:

  • 3 women, 2 men
  • 3 engineers
  • 3 future Resident Assistants (RAs)
  • 4 out of 5 walked backwards and talked at the same time—3 asked us to make sure they didn’t bump into people/statues/buildings.
  • 1 out of 5 didn’t talk loud enough
  • 3 Greeks out of the 4 schools with Greek systems
  • 4 out of 4 said the exact same sentence, “Some of my friends are, some of my friends aren’t, you can do it or you don’t have to, it doesn’t make much of a difference.”  when I asked, “What’s the role of the Greek system here?”
  • 4 out of 4 were therefore clearly coached on the “right” answer to parents asking about the Greek system.
  • 5 out of 5 were trained marketers, to the degree that one wouldn’t answer “What other schools did you apply to and why did you choose your school?” directly.  They were good at their jobs, but left me thinking I’d better call my InterVarsity campus ministry colleagues to find out the real scoop at each school.

Clearly the most effective tour guide was our last one, at Villanova, because after his tour,  during our college debrief as we drove away, 3 out of the 4 girls said it was their favorite school.

“How much of Villanova’s allure is because the tour guide was good looking?” I asked.

“Oh my gosh,” Squeal, squeal, “He was SO hot!”

Mona and I then listened in to all the characteristics that made him an excellent tour guide:

  • His just so tousled hair gelled so it tufted up at the top to the side
  • His day old stubble
  • His name-brand pink long sleeve button down shirt rolled up at the sleeves with one shirttail tucked in and the other shirttail hanging out
  • His name-brand long shorts that ended at the knee—not too long, not too short
  • His name-brand loafers

“I just wanted to reach on over there and tuck in that shirt during the whole tour,” said Mona.  Me too.

We pontificated how shirts should either be completely un-tucked or tucked but not half tucked while our girls rolled their eyes and said “Oh mom,” like we were complete losers who just don’t appreciate young male fashion.  Guilty.

3/4s of our crowd (who also corresponded with the 3 who liked Villanova the best and were the youngest) were saddened when they realized hot college tour guide wasn’t even going to be at Villanova by the time they reached college.

So if you’re doing the college tours anytime soon, keep an eye out for which tour guide you get—he or she may influence your child’s decision more than you ever would hope.

And watch out for that half-tucked in shirt. . .

You may also enjoy:

Our First College Tour

Driving with My Daughter for the 1st Time

My Theology of Parenting or Why I Gave Up Being God

Boys Work and Dead Chipmunks


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