Tour guides share their school pride with prospective students
March 12, 2019
When Alexsandra Taylor was a nervous high school senior visiting the University, she was comforted by the student tour guides and the enthusiasm they showed for their school. Now a junior in LAS, Taylor is a tour guide herself, hoping to give future Illini that same experience.
“I remember how nervous I was visiting new schools and to have someone there on the inside that you could ask questions to was so reassuring and nice to have,” she said. “So I am glad that I can help give that experience to visiting students now.”
Taylor has been a tour guide since the second semester of her freshman year. She joined, like many of her colleagues, because of how impactful her tour was as an apprehensive high school senior in the midst of an important decision.
Fabian Guerrero, sophomore in FAA and student tour guide, also loves to share his experience and school pride with future students.
“It’s a job that pays, which is always nice, but it was the fact that I get to share and talk about a school I love to other students is really special,” he said. “Plus, the events and programs that we get to be part of are always awesome and fun.”
However, being a tour guide requires much preparation. Specifically, if a prospective student tour guide doesn’t know the script or seem comfortable giving the tour, they’ll have to try again.
“You get hired the semester before you start, and you go through training and script memorization and things like that,” Taylor said. “You’re given a couple (of) weeks, and once it’s time, you go in front of the interns on staff and give a ‘tour’ to a prospective group of students, which are actually graduate students.”
The rigorous preparation helps tour guides practice for difficult questions or topics which come up on tours that can make or break someone’s decision to attend the University.
Julia Greuel, junior in AHS and student tour guide, attributes the training as to why tour guides seem to be casual and comfortable.
“Our training and the things we learn really helps us in the situations that may come up when a question is something we don’t get asked a lot or if a topic isn’t usually introduced,” Greuel said.
Since the University is home to over 45,000 students and hundreds of buildings, it can be easy to get lost. However, student tour guides are trained to know the ins and outs of the campus.
“I know campus like the back of my hand because even if you aren’t giving a tour on a certain area of campus, you have to be able to answer where a specific building is if a student has questions about it,” Guerrero said. “It can be tough if you don’t.”
Greuel has been a tour guide since last May and can see the impact the tours have on prospective students and their families, especially during one-on-one questions with their tour guides after the official tour is over.
“At this point, we can talk about more specific things that these individuals want to talk about,” Greuel said. “It always feels really amazing when parents and students come up to us after or even comment on the tour website on how good of a job we did and how it really helped them. The main reason a lot of us give tours is because of how much we love the University, so if we can show everyone else that, then it’s really awesome.”
For as much as the tour guides try to stick to the script, there are many situations they can’t plan for, from calling a building the wrong name to tripping while walking backward. Tour guides have even had parents offer them money.
“We’ve had parents offer to pay us and have us drive them around for a tour instead of walk, which is crazy,” Taylor said. “I mean none of us are going to do that because the whole point is a walking tour, but it’s just crazy the things that people will ask us to do.”
Many of the tour guides are so happy to do the job because of their own school pride and the desire to share it with others.
“Being able to share my experiences with potential students, I think, is super influential in their decision-making when it comes to the University,” Guerrero said.