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Old 01-17-2018, 10:17 AM
 
120 posts, read 56,471 times
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Coldjensens,

Campus-wide tours tend to be much the same everywhere you go as you have discovered - the campus looks pretty, the people are nice and perky, promises are made, etc. It is basically a hard-sell to the student and his/her parents.

If your child has decided upon a specific major, then I strongly suggest you visiting and meeting 1:1 with students and faculty in that specific department. That will often give you a much clearer and accurate view. Also, most departments do allow guests - parents, perspective students - to sit in on classes. You only have to request it.

My best to you -
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by okaydorothy View Post
Having two boys 17 months apart, we have been on many college tours in the past two years. Are they worth it ; yes and no. The youngest dosnt want to do anymore as he feels they are all the same (he came with us when the eldest was touring). They are pretty helpful. I try to ask the tour guides what they are doing after college ; one was a senior and graduating in two months of the tour ; she didn't have a job yet and would worry about it in a few weeks. Hello ; you are graduating soon and have not even looked yet ; we struck that college satellite campus off the list immediately..

Similar to our situation of nearly 20 years ago. The oldest wanted to study Music Engineering so we toured Berklee, Oberlin, I-U, and Univ of Miami to see first hand the facilities and offerings. At that time the degree programs at Oberlin and I-U existed in name only. Oberlin had two electronic keyboards located in an alcove off a basement hallway in one of their buildings. I-U's program sounded as if it was a cooperative or volunteer arrangement between the Music School and the Theatre Dept. Their sole dedicated space for this program was in an attic of the Theatre Building. Berklee had lots of facilities but they were all small and looked well worn. Miami's spaces were new, large, and plentiful.

NOTE: This was nearly 20 years ago and all of the above may have changed significantly!

We had lunch with music students while at I-U and I asked one of the Seniors what his plans were after college. His degree was in Classical Saxophone so I assumed he would be, or already had been, auditioning with Orchestras for a seat. He said he had no idea what he would do as no orchestras used Saxophones! He then said he might go to additional classes to earn an Education Degree so he could teach High School Band, but he really hated doing that.

Four years of college yielding a degree offering near zero employment prospects. There are some Orchestral pieces which include a Saxophone but many/most compositions were penned prior to the invention of the Saxophone in the mid-19th century. Hence, its very rare use in Classical Music.

Last edited by MI-Roger; 01-17-2018 at 12:25 PM..
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Old 02-02-2018, 12:34 PM
 
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You (and your child) will get out of a college tour a level of information approximately equal to the amount of research/effort you contribute. As part of my faculty duties, I often meet with families during their tours of campus. The VAST majority of the time, the student/parent has NO questions for me, canít articulate why he/she is interested in our program, and just stares at me blankly while I try to come up with information I think might be helpful. Iím sure those people leave our campus with claims similar to yours. A few students, though, come prepared with a list of thoughtful questions, and we end up having delightful, deep, productive conversations. THOSE visits almost always result in the student enrolling in our program.
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Old 02-03-2018, 02:37 PM
 
4,208 posts, read 4,554,193 times
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Originally Posted by tnff View Post
I believe this is the statement that led people to believe you felt the tours were required. But ok, you've said the real issue is the tours themselves, so let's talk about how to make them better. Certainly some schools do a much better job than others. I'll list some of the schools we visited and discuss the quality of the tours. In order of tour quality:


A. Clemson. I think they did the best job on the tours. Guides were friendly and knowledgeable. They had a "uniform" if you will that distinguished them (school polo and kakis) that just conveyed a level of professionalism from the start. The guides were knowledgeable about the school, town, and college life in general. While they didn't know details of all the majors (wouldn't expect them too) they knew where to get the information. Good tour of the library. Very obvious they (student guides) liked the school genuinely wanted to share that. Besides the general tour, tours were available of the Living/Learning Communities and Departments. Good information from the department tour we took. Campus was clean, modern, well maintained, and the tour spent enough time in key facilities to get a good feel. (Full disclosure: Daughter choose here and has herself been a student Ambassador to visiting students and parents.)


B. NC State. Also well done, for many of the same reasons as mentioned above. Tour was informative of campus history. School was clean and maintained. Excellent information from the individual department tour. Slight deduction because the tours of the library and dining were superficial. Otherwise almost identical to how Clemson was done.


C. Indiana U. Tour was not as well done as above two, but stunning campus. Tour guide knew the campus history, and gave a good tour of the key facilities, library, and part of the dining. Deductions for not as knowledgeable about class sizes and unable to answer questions about facilities not on the direct tour route.


D. Appalachian State. Information part of the tour was somewhat marketing rather than informative so maybe this is what you experienced.l. Not as informative. Actual tour was nice. Covered key parts of campus. Probably the best tour of a dining hall of any of them. Tour guide was knowledgeable. Campus well maintained and forward looking.


E. Tenn Tech and MTSU. These two are basically interchangeable. Tour was minimally informative. At MTSU they spent a lot of time talking about the new rec center and new science building (science building itself was not as impressive as the hype and not to the level of facility as Clemson, NC State, and Indiana. Tour guides were going through the motions. Tours of the individual departments were mixed. One did an excellent job, while the other Campuses seemed to be less well kept, landscaping and buildings needed work. In both campuses the feel and vib wasn't there. TTU did provide our son a lunch voucher for a free meal in the dining hall. MTSU seemed almost like walking an airport runway, straight, flat, minimal landscaping.


F. East Tenn. Worst of the bunch. Tours and visit just didn't see professionally run. Campus didn't present itself well at all. Seemed run down and behind the times compared to other universities we toured. Tour guide really not knowledgeable and didn't seem to want to be there. Even the professional staff member who came out to discuss scholarships and costs spent more time complaining about budget cuts, and lack of faculty pay increases than about costs. The tour was valuable in this respect. Going in it was high on our list because of in state tuition and scholarships going there would have been very cheap. After the tour we saw that even if it were free, it would be too expensive in terms of value for the four years. So the tour let us scratch it off the list.


So the tours helped us separate the schools into top choice reach, 2nd tier reach, adequate safe schools, and avoid at all costs. The order was not what we would have expected just from the websites and information out there.
Thanks for the feedback on Clemson and NC State. We will be going soon. We did multiple tours at the University of Michigan this summer. Some of the departments were well organized and structured while others were outright boring and left many parents with more questions than answers about the programs.
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Old 02-04-2018, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
8,286 posts, read 5,840,308 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agp_mzk View Post
You (and your child) will get out of a college tour a level of information approximately equal to the amount of research/effort you contribute. As part of my faculty duties, I often meet with families during their tours of campus. The VAST majority of the time, the student/parent has NO questions for me, canít articulate why he/she is interested in our program, and just stares at me blankly while I try to come up with information I think might be helpful. Iím sure those people leave our campus with claims similar to yours. A few students, though, come prepared with a list of thoughtful questions, and we end up having delightful, deep, productive conversations. THOSE visits almost always result in the student enrolling in our program.
Couldn't agree with you more - students and parents should approach the college visit with prepared questions. You need to find out what you don't know or can't find out on the website. Talking to people with live experiences is very, very useful.
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Old 02-05-2018, 07:19 AM
 
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I've been on dozens of campus visits. I think I liked them more than any of my kids did! The best ones were when they had tour leaders that actually majored in the potential major of the HS students. My kids also did overnights and accepted college visits where they sat in on classes. My youngest was the most focused and met with the department heads at his top picks. I found the tours with large groups of people the worst and with tour guides who had totally different interests/majors of my kids equally unhelpful.
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Old 02-05-2018, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
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I went on another one this weekend. It was my alma mater and I was looking forward to the tour to see what changed. My son told me he was sick of College tours, they are all the same, plus it was really super cold. He would sit this one out after doing the essay/interview for academic scholarships. Alas - they had no tour. Just 2 hours of people repeating themselves and/or telling us all about themselves. One guy was a really good speaker though so it was not as painful as it might have been. Funny thing was the head of the Honors college who was the moderator and speaker at length was a terrible speaker, just read his notes and did not read well, then suddenly mid- sentence had changed topic and demeanor and he was an excellent speaker for ten minutes, then just as suddenly he changed back and returned to being a bad reader of notes. At least it was entertaining. My son is convinced he has multiple personalities.

I was amused when I visited the departmental reception thing that they all do. It was in the student center. I spoke with one professor about how we used to throw paper airplanes and try to stick them in the ceiling 3 stories up. The ceiling was full of thousands and thousands of paper airplanes. She showed me a display they had in one corner of the student center. It was a glass display case that had a section of the old ceiling with paper airplanes stuck in it and a bunch of different lose airplanes they had removed but found interesting because how they were made, what they were made of or what was written on them. The airplanes covered a period of four decades. Alas, none were mine. She said they could not figure out how the students got the airplanes to go straight up three stories with enough force to stick in the ceiling. I showed her how we did it and she said she would make a note of this to give to the engineering professors. I was very amused. This was my favorite college visit.


I think the academic scholarship is being used as a marketing tool. They get top students to come, write an essay, interview with faculty and take a tour. By offering a handful of full ride scholarships, they have the opportunity to showcase their school to top high school students who might not otherwise come for a tour.
They get to introduce them to faculty and potentially attract a few top notch students who might otherwise go elsewhere.

Not really working for my son. He thinks the tours are all the same, the schools have little difference between them for anything that really matters and he will go wherever the offer him the most money.

Last edited by Coldjensens; 02-05-2018 at 09:25 AM..
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Old 02-05-2018, 06:42 PM
 
1,940 posts, read 3,304,329 times
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Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
Not really working for my son. He thinks the tours are all the same, the schools have little difference between them for anything that really matters and he will go wherever the offer him the most money.
For large universities your son's view may be quite accurate. For smaller colleges there may be more differences between schools, particularly in program strength and breadth. More financial aid is always a good thing!
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Old 02-05-2018, 09:25 PM
 
Location: WI
2,820 posts, read 3,064,288 times
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My kids were able to do tours where they sat in on a class with a student, and then ate lunch with them and such. Some schools even offered overnight visits. Those were definitely more useful than the group-of-30-walking-behind-a-polo-wearing-tour-guide “here is the dining hall. Here is the science building. Here is the freshman dorm. Any questions?” style tour, although we still did find those insightful.
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Old 02-06-2018, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Heart of Dixie
12,448 posts, read 10,139,663 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
...Clemson. I think they did the best job on the tours. Guides were friendly and knowledgeable. They had a "uniform" if you will that distinguished them (school polo and kakis) that just conveyed a level of professionalism from the start. The guides were knowledgeable about the school, town, and college life in general. While they didn't know details of all the majors (wouldn't expect them too) they knew where to get the information. Good tour of the library. Very obvious they (student guides) liked the school genuinely wanted to share that. Besides the general tour, tours were available of the Living/Learning Communities and Departments. Good information from the department tour we took. Campus was clean, modern, well maintained, and the tour spent enough time in key facilities to get a good feel. (Full disclosure: Daughter choose here and has herself been a student Ambassador to visiting students and parents.)...
Clemson gave us a wonderful tour. We were also given an additional tour of the facilities for the specific major that interested our child. That tour was given by a student who was a senior in that major. The tours were impressive and covered all aspects of college life at Clemson.
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