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The Other Side of College Campus Tour 1

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 1

By James H. Choi
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https://dl.dropbox.com/u/6378458/Column/Graphics/campustour.jpgDear Sabio Parents,

If your budget doesn’t allow you to take your student on college campus visits, don’t worry.

Your child will not be at any disadvantage. The upsides of college campus tours are well-known, endlessly repeated by those in the tour business and those who want to bring students to the college by impressing a future applicant (i.e. your student).  But these people have nothing to gain by mentioning the downsides of the tours.

So nobody has mentioned them — until now.  Please allow me to count the ways.

1. The college campus tour does not work as a way to motivate older students.

If a student is old enough to realize that he/she does want to go to college (i.e. a junior or senior in high school), then it is too late.  Top American college/university admissions require notoriously long term planning — starting at 6th grade.  What these juniors and seniors realize on the tour is how lacking they are.  Therefore the college visit results in a feeling of despair and regret and perhaps a depressive “down” feeling.

Sure, some of them are already prepared and these tours would help them select the campus they like the most.  However, these students will get in anyway without the tour, and impression they get from these tours would not reveal much about what they will actually face once they are enrolled.  I will not mention these “will get in anyway” types of students for the rest of this article.

2.The college campus tour does not work as a way to motivate younger students to study harder.

Now, if a younger students (i.e. someone in 6th or 7th grade) visit those campuses, that is an ideal age because there is still time to do everything to qualify them for these elite universities. But here is another problem: These students are too young to care.  They probably care only about the campus gift shops. For these students, college campus tour is only an sub-optimal, pointless, boring vacation destination.  It is an unreasonable to expect a child disinterested in books to be impressed by massive volumes of books in singularly hushed air of a university library.


3. A student is rarely the right age for a college campus tour.

To work, a college campus tour must be taken when students are at the right age —such an age is a balance between having the right number of years left in high school and the right maturity to appreciate the opportunity — but overlap is very thin, thin to the point that it does not exist.  Even in the unlikely case that the students get motivated to study harder to get into a particular college, you have to ask yourself about their motivation:

First, “What did the student see that they liked so much?”  At the campus, students see only one season out of the four. If the students are impressed with the summer scene, they could be depressed with the winter scene, and vice versa.

Second, “What did the students actually see?”  Buildings! Is there a building so impressive that you would bet your life (or your student’s life) on being inside for four+ years?  If so, should they choose their career also based on buildings?

4. People, not campus buildings, shape students at college.

The actual influences colleges exert on students is done by the people there, not the buildings at all. Yet the only people you meet on a college campus tour are admissions officers, or current students selected by admissions office — people who are chosen to make good impressions on potential applicants, people you and your student will never see again.

The famous professors and Nobel-prize winners of illustrious universities? You will not see them during your college campus visit; in fact, your student will not see them during his or her first college years. (They are busy doing research. Who has time to speak with college undergraduates?)

On a college campus tour, the representative will guide students along the facilities and might poke their heads into some classrooms or take a tour of the dorm, but these are — or should be — minor points in deciding one’s university.  The most important factors — how students will actually gain academic knowledge (e.g. teachers and curriculum) — is completely omitted from a campus tour.

Continued (how to get free passwords)

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 2

The Other Side of College Campus Tour 3


Categories: College Campus Tour

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