Top five things you will hear on every college tour

Leigh Jacobson


Those of us in the class of 2012 find ourselves currently entrenched in one of the most frustrating and anxiety-ridden periods of our young lives: College application season. With early decision, early action and priority deadlines looming menacingly in the next couple of weeks, it is no surprise that many of us are under considerable stress. We are not even done with high school (much less first semester) but many of us already feel like seasoned veterans of the college application process. In light of this, The Roar is launching a series of college-themed lists that should provide much-needed consolation for our sleep-deprived seniors and advice for our unsuspecting juniors. And if you are an underclassman, just stop reading. Seriously. Go outside, hug a stranger and enjoy life. Relish your remaining two years of innocence while they last.

This week, we’re addressing college tours. Plenty of us have been on a college tour. Plenty of us have been on a few college tours. Even more of us have been on many, many college tours. At some point, they all start blending seamlessly into one, forgettable college, making it almost impossible to distinguish between this school and that school. The following is a compilation of the most common college tour statements: Phrases that have been uttered repeatedly and insistently by admissions representatives throughout the nation’s schools, and that should be taken with a grain of salt by all you prospective students out there.



1.    Our school is a research institution.”

One of the most commonly stated phrases, this always begs the question: what school isn’t? Research is, by definition, “the collecting of information about a particular subject” (Merriam-Webster). If a student can’t do that at your school, shouldn’t you therefore not even be teaching students? It is astounding how often each school will pronounce this statement, proclaiming it as proudly as if they had just announced that they had singlehandedly solved global warming.

2.    “No one feels unsafe on our campus.”  

Well, what do you want them to say? Do you really expect the admissions representative to inform your over-anxious parents that it is in fact extremely likely that their baby could get mugged while returning to their dorm room late at night? Of course not. Instead, nine times out of ten, the rep/tour guide will utter this phrase, and then point to a conveniently close blue pole and start their shpiel about the renowned Blue Light system.

 3.    “We truly take a holistic approach when reviewing your application.”

I, for one, hope this is true. Every school makes it a point to insist that every single aspect of your application will be evaluated, probably in anticipation of that overeager mom who will inevitably raise her hand and whine about how the system is not fair.


4.    “Our professors are highly accessible.” 


I’ve never heard of a school that is willing to admit that their professors cannot be reached. Never will an admissions rep let you know that, in fact, one eccentric professor holes himself up in his office with his cats and refuses to see students.


5.    “We don’t want to read an essay about your grandma.”

Without fail, every school that I’ve visited has gone out of their way to say: “Don’t write an essay about how great your grandma is” followed by “it just makes us want to admit her to our school.” It almost makes me wonder if all admissions reps get their lines straight out of a guidebook… and also, what the guy who wrote that guidebook had against grandmas.


Note: Many times, these commonly stated statements are in fact true. We are not refuting them, just pointing out their redundancy.

Check back next week for our advice on navigating the Common Application.