Twice a week, I walk backwards around Kenyon’s campus with a group of people and tell them stories about how my college experience has been thus far. It’s my job, actually, and it’s one of my favorite things to do. I’m a campus tour guide. Of course, there’s some basic information that I tell people alongside the stories: professors have a minimum of five office hours per week, you’ll communicate with your faculty advisor before you arrive on campus, etc. But the most important parts of my tour are the stories. At the end of the hour, I want you to have a good idea of what it feels like to go to Kenyon, not just know a list of facts. That feeling is a really fun thing to talk about.
I start the tour off by introducing myself and telling you about all the different hats I wear on campus. I’m a varsity athlete, neuroscience major, junior, St. Louis native, bassist, lab intern, etc. I start with that so you have a sense of what my perspective is on campus. Next, we meander down Middle Path toward Rosse Hall. Middle Path is our campus’ central artery: your route to and from anywhere on campus. Especially on a sunny day in the fall, you are undoubtedly going to run into someone (or some dog) you know on Middle Path, and it’s going to take you a few extra minutes to get where you’re going because you’ll want to chat. I spend as much time on Middle Path as I can during the tour because it’s where you get the best idea of what it feels like to go here. I’ve yet to give a tour where someone didn’t say “Hi” or “Come to Kenyon!” as my group walked by. Kenyon’s best quality is our community, and helping prospective families realize that is the best part of my job.
As the tour continues along, I highlight how different parts of my life have happened in the spaces we see. Walking by York Lecture Hall in the Science Quad, I talk about learning how to write my first scientific paper in my intro bio lab. When we walk by the Horn Gallery, I talk about the first show my band played that people actually came to. In the First-Year Quad, I point to my old room and talk about blasting my roommate’s newest music project on Fridays after dinner and having our hallmates funnel in to listen. No two people have the same experience here, but the things I talk about are things that the folks on my tour could end up doing, should they choose Kenyon. As a veteran tour guide, I love asking first-year students who I gave tours to last year what resonated with them when they were here as prospective students. It’s almost always something that seemed very small at the time.
When I was a prospective student, touring colleges in a bunch of different states, a large portion of whether or not I liked a school depended on how much the tour guide seemed to like it. Did people say hi to them? Was their enthusiasm genuine? There were plenty of campuses where the people I met seemed very happy to be there, and there were plenty where the people did not seem that way. When I ultimately made the decision to come to Kenyon, one of the big reasons was because people I had met while I was here had been authentic in their love for this place. For that same reason, I applied to be a tour guide. Kenyon is my home, and I want to help prospective students realize how it could be theirs, too.Read the Original Post