Seeing a Campus Through the Eyes of a High School Senior

Even though I have worked for an on-campus housing company for 18 years, I have always enjoyed taking campus tours with each of my three children.  I find it fascinating to see a new campus from their eyes and take the campus tour with them.  In the process, it helps me gain insight into what’s important to a 17 year old high school student…aka the customer.

Last week I took my first campus tour with my last child at home – currently a senior in high school – to the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta.  Since I have “been there, done that” with my other two children, I generally know the routine.  But I must say I was pleasantly surprised by some small, but important things this institution did during our visit:

  • The hour-long presentation before we did the campus walk was well organized, incorporated good videos, and provided all the right information on required information and dates.  While there was the typical “feel good” information, it provided LOTS of statistics about the value of an education there with respect to how many graduates get jobs, the value of their study abroad program.  In other words, for just about every competitive advantage they discussed, they provided statistical data to back it up.
  • All of the campus informational sessions and tours were student-led; there were no university administrators involved.  As the students were providing the information, they told many personal stories to emphasize programs or points.  For example, when discussing the importance of the co-op program, the student mentioned a friend who elected not to participate and how challenging it was to land a job.  When talking about the study abroad program, they told stories of their experiences.  I can tell you from experience with other campus visits where the informational sessions were led by university officials (typically much older than students) – a high school student’s attention span increases profoundly when they are listening to a current student talk about real-life campus experiences.
  • Don’t know if this was planned or not, but our campus walking tour had one official guide (Claire) and one unofficial one (Joe).  Both were outstanding ambassadors for the University.  What was interesting to watch was that while Claire was conducting the “official” tour, Joe was “working the crowd,” introducing himself and connecting with many of the prospective students in our group. By the time we left, Joe had “connected” with my son by asking lots of questions and relating his experiences with student groups/organizations, information about majors, and so forth.  This may not have been planned (I think Joe is training to be an official guide?), but it worked well.
  • While this is a small thing, it is worth noting about the way our official tour guide, Claire, conducted the tour.  As with all tours, you have the parents / students who make sure to get at the front of the group starting out (and usually stay there).  What I noticed Claire do at several stopping points was to purposefully walk to the back of the group and lead the group to the next place on the tour.  The effect was the back of the group “stragglers” now became the focus of her attention.  Small thing, but a great way to make sure she connected with everyone in the group.
  •  The only constructive criticism I have of the tour was that we never visited any of the on-campus housing communities.  I’m sure one could arrange for this, but would have been great to go in their newest facility and see where you might live.

Well, one campus visit down, and several more to go.  Can’t wait to “see” the next one through the eyes of the customer, my high school senior.

What’s been your experience with campus visits / tours?  We would love to hear!

airwin