Tour GuideTips & Tricks

How to Give a Campus Tour | Part 2: Paint the Picture

Posted on:
February 24, 2022

Calling all tour guides! Welcome to our handy-dandy, all-encompassing, super-awesome handbook for giving a campus tour. Here at HelloCampus, we turn prospects into students. Some of us are former guides; Others are current ones. Basically, we live and breathe college admissions.

In this article, we’re gonna talk about the content of a good tour, everything between the beginning and end. The extra scary stuff. But, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with three points:

P.S. If you’re new here, you might want to catch up on how to Welcome Visitors and Start the Tour, and (later) don’t forget to check out how to End Your Tour Strong.

1. Talk about hard skills 🧠

We’re going to use an analogy here, but bear with us! Think about the content of your tour (that is, what you say at each stop) like you think about a resume – You should talk about your college’s hard skills and its soft skills. Let’s explain:

We've all heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words”. Well, when it comes to tours, sometimes “numbers speak louder than words”. This is what we mean by ‘hard skills’. They come in form of statistics and facts. Here are some examples:

  • What is your student-to-faculty ratio?
  • Your retention rate? Admissions rate?
  • Average class size?
  • Largest major?
  • Are you SAT-optional?
  • What NCAA division are you in?
  • Are students required to live on-campus?
  • How many study abroad programs are offered? How many clubs?
  • What classes make up your core curriculum?

These have to be memorized and, generally, you’ll get this information from the admissions office. Your administrators should give you a bunch of information about your college – Head down, you just gotta study it.

Better yet, to really figure out what facts are important to know, shadow other tour guides! Shadow, shadow, shadow. We can’t emphasize that enough. Not only will this teach you what ‘hard skills’ actually interest your visitors, but it’ll also make you more comfortable with the whole thing.

2. Talk about soft skills 💓

Don't like memorization? Don’t sweat it. Hard skills only make up about 10-15% of your tour. It’s those ‘soft skills’ which are much, much more important. They describe your school’s personality, its character – all those things that can’t be summarized with numbers and facts!

Prospects can look up most statistics online, but they rely completely on you to hear about ‘soft skills’. So, these aspects of your college should be the primary focus of your tour. Some may be:

  • What does a typical weekend/weekday look like for you?
  • Do students have a lot of school spirit?
  • How rigorous are your academics?
  • What is the social scene like?
  • How would you describe your fellow students?
  • How strongly does your student body value ‘community’?
  • If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be?
  • Are your professors good teachers?
  • How safe do you feel while on campus?
  • If your school is religious, how does that present itself in your daily campus life?

Like a resume, no tour is complete without touching on the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ characteristics of your college! Make sure you incorporate both into each stop. At the science building? Maybe mention how biology is your biggest major (a hard skill), but follow it up by discussing how the school of science has a devout dedication to sustainability (a soft skill).
That’s it for the content of your tour. But, now, a word on how to present that content.

3. Show, Don’t Tell! 🤫
Consider this: What’s more impactful?

  • Saying, “Our university has a ton of school spirit!” OR telling a story about how you and 4,000 other rowdy students (body painted and all) stormed the court after a buzzer-beater win against Villanova?
  • Saying, “Our academics are challenging.” OR telling a story about how you went to the tutoring center everyday for your accounting class... so much so that your tutor invited you to her house for a dinner celebration when you finally made an A?
  • Saying, “Our students love the winter!” OR telling a story about how you and your friends used your laundry bins to sled down that hill, while blaring Justin Bieber’s Christmas album?

You get the point. Stories aren't only more memorable, but they’re what make your campus come alive! Don’t just tell them about your small student-to-faculty ratio, show them through an anecdote about a professor who’s gotten to know you personally. If we can end with one take-away, let it be this: Paint a picture of what your college life is like, share your personal experiences, and tell stories. That’s the #1 secret to being a good guide. (In fact, we wrote a whole other blog about the power of storytelling!)

Wow, look at you, the tour is on its way! Each of your stops will touch on hard skills, soft skills, and (most importantly) will tell a story. Now you know how to start a tour and give one, but don’t forget to read up on how to finish it. See you there!

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