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Sunday, June 24, 2007


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This is awesome and illuminating! You will be interested to know that here at the "large midwestern university" where I work, they actually advertise for campus tour guides this way: "Learn to walk backwards! Be a campus tour guide."


Yikes! I was talking to ole Spibby on the phone this afternoon, and he indicated that he thought Bonnaroo and I sounded bitter and angry in this post, as if we were attacking the tour guides.

While I know it's probably of no big concern to anyone here, I want to make clear that we didn't mean to do anything of the sort. The kids worked hard, and while there were some funny bits we encountered on all the tours, and while there are some things that we might wish to change about any of the schools, we were extraordinarily impressed by each University we looked at, as well as each of the tour guides. Those young adults worked hard to provide a lot of information in a short time. And did so with enthusiasm. So, while we meant to make fun of the tours as a whole in a slightly amused manner, we didn't mean to sound bitter or angry.


I may have misread Sloop/Bonita's tone in their post. Hard to say, what with this humidity.

What I am clearer about is recognizing, based on their post, news reports about this trending toward making college orientation a family affair, not just a student-centric event. As someone who didn't even go to his college orientation, I can only claim an outsider's fascination with all of this stuff. Yet when my local paper reports on the flagship uni in my state reaching out to parents, I pay attention. Here is a link to a story of interest:



i think that the problem of academics going on these tours is that we are all too aware of the gap between how universities sell themselves and what they are actually like. e.g., we get to see the shiny new building, but we KNOW there is deferred maintenance elsewhere on campus, b/c there ALWAYS IS. and they tell us that the faculty always adore the students, but we KNOW that's not always true, b/c we ourselves do not always adore our students. this knowledge leads to the kind of tone that "school shopping" has. although i also object to being characterized as "bitter and angry," i would plead guilty to a kind of cynicism.

as far as universities reaching out to parents, that is a much bigger topic. in my mind, such efforts are not a wholly positive trend, as they are often about expanding the university's "in loco parentis" role in ways that infantilize students and retard their progress toward independent adulthood. baby boomer parents, well-known for their over-parenting, might like these efforts, but when their kid moves back in with them after college, unable to find his/her way in the world, they wonder what went wrong. like i said, a different topic, and one i could go on about at some length. obviously.


please do. it's a great topic.

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