Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Better Questions to Ask on Tours

     The May 1st deadline is quickly approaching. Open houses are every weekend. I know, you're probably just as panicked as I am about getting a real adult job. But it is ok. Just sit, calm down, it will all be fine. As you may (or may not know) I am a tour guide here at SMC. I think in my time here, I probably have given well over 200 tours in my four years. Giving tours is something I absolutely love doing, especially if students (and parents) come armed with questions. But as a tour guide, we tend to get the same question over and over again, but are those really the questions that you should be asking or are there better ones out there that will help you more in your college search? Well, I'm here to tell you that while your questions are always appreciated, there are definitely ones that are better than the ones that you are asking. Here are a few!

Instead of "Why did you choose (insert college name here)?" you should ask, "Why did you choose to stay?"
     This is honestly a question that I have never been asked on a tour, but one that I think speaks a lot more to the college in question. Sure, I can tell you my story of how I picked SMC out of the 12 other schools that I applied for, but more important than my original choice of Saint Mike's is the choice that I make every year to stay. Sure, people pick the wrong college all the time and transferring is really easy now, but for me to stay at one institution for all four years and be incredibly happy should tell you something about the school. It is a hard decision to pick a school, and often times it is really hard for a tour guide to explain why they chose the school they did. We all tend to say "we just knew" and we did, but that probably isn't the answer that you are looking for. So instead, I suggest that you ask why your tour guide decided to come back year after year.

Instead of "What is your favorite thing about (insert college here)?" you should ask, "What is your least favorite thing?"
     This question is a little more common, as I have gotten asked it numerous times, but I think that it is important. Just like the first one, it tells you what I like and don't like about the school. It is really hard for me to answer "what is your favorite thing" because chances are, if I have been here for four years, I enjoy a lot. It is really hard to narrow down on just one item. While the second question seems a little bit of a downer, it really helps perspective students get a sense of what to actually expect on campus. I can't list all my favorite things on my fingers and toes, I would need more appendages, but I can list all of my negatives on maybe 2 fingers. I think it gives your tour guide more of a focus. Also, everyone has different negatives, but chances are, tour guides all have the same positives.
To be 100% honest, my least favorite thing about SMC are the puddles. The 300's field (AKA my front yard) in mud season is actually the worst. Often times the puddles feel like this^^

Instead of "How much homework will I get?" you should ask "what was your favorite class, can you explain it?"
     Honestly, it is basically the same question, but the way that you are asking it is a lot different. Normally when people ask me about homework, I get a little frustrated. It is college after all, no one said it was going to be easy, so when someone asks me just about homework, it normally tells me two things:
            1. you don't have a plan of approach for schoolwork, AKA, you need to figure out your study habits ASAP.
            2. you are worried that you won't do well in college.
Not saying that either of these are bad, I certainly fell into both of these categories. But I did ok. All I have to say is that when you ask me about my favorite class, I am able to give you details and it makes me excited to talk about it. Personally, my favorite class that I have had was Race and Ethnic Relations with Maya Bhave. The class was challenging, with three 20 page papers plus exams and reading. While it was one of my hardest classes, I love talking about it. I think that asking this question allows you not only to get a sense of homework, but also how classes typically work.

     Finally, this one may seem pretty open, but one of my biggest pet peeves is when people ask me very broad questions. We are all guilty of it, I know that I definitely did it when I was touring colleges. It really helps to narrow down your questions that you plan on asking. This not only helps the tour guide figure out what to say in the time allotted while also catering the tour to your likes, but it also helps you get the information that you want to hear. So instead of asking a question like "what is there to do on the weekends?" you should really narrow in. Are you particularly interested in the sporting events on campus? Or about the wilderness program? Maybe you do want to ask the infamous question about the party scene. Whatever it is, ask it point blank. I promise that you will get an answer and it will answer the question, instead of answering all parts of the question except the one that you really wanted to hear about.
This is normally my face when someone asks me a question that could literally go in one million directions. Find a focus, it will not only help us to answer your question, but it will give you an answer to something that you really want to know about! 
     And that is all! I hope this helps when you are looking at colleges as that May 1st deadline approaches! Take advantage of all tour opportunities and Open Houses that you can! Ask all the questions that you really want to know! You can do this, I have faith in you!

P.S: KnightChat tomorrow! Register HERE!


Questions? Comments? Just wanna say hey?
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