As a former undergraduate tour guide and current graduate tour guide, I found Lucy Mueller’s opinion piece, “A Step Forward for Tours,” from Aug. 25 to be over simplified and, in some cases, presumptuous to a point that demonstrates a lack of understanding for the job. Mueller stated that other campuses, such as Hendrix College in Arkansas, are instating a new type of tour that differs from USC’s policies of walking backwards and informing. She criticizes our USC tour guides for walking backwards on tours. Yet, she fails to mention why other, smaller schools are instating this new ambulatory policy. Tours at these small schools are much smaller than the ones we give here. According to a Hendrix College admissions representative, their tours are often one person, but 10 is an accurate average for a given tour. With such a small audience, not facing your listeners, rudeness aside, might be possible to those with a behemoth voice. But here at USC, most of the tours given have 35 people, sometimes more. So, imagine trying to talk to 35 people while not facing them. A tour will do no good if the person taking it cannot hear the tour guide because they are not even facing their audience. Facts aside, my mother always taught me never to turn my back on someone you are speaking to, especially in a professional sense.
Mueller has also criticized the USC tours by saying, “perhaps instead of talking to potential students, guides should initiate a conversation with them.” If Mueller had taken our tours and stayed until the end she would have coincidently noticed that the guide often stays for 10 minutes or more simply talking to anyone on their tour who has a question. I know, in my years of tour guiding, I’ve stayed half an hour after a tour talking to a family who had apprehensions. I had one tour where a potential student approached me afterwards and told me the tour made him decide to come here. We still keep in touch and he was at a get-together at my apartment just a week ago.
Finally, Mueller seems to disagree with the use of the facts on our tours by saying, “Guides unfailingly mention that the VKC globe makes it the tallest building on campus, that CTCS 466 … is the most popular class in the university.” But to be fair, we also discuss study abroad programs, housing on campus and off, the history of the school, financial aid, every academic department, scholarships, graduate programs, the career planning and placement center, jobs and clubs on campus, research for undergraduates, notable faculty, the greater Los Angeles area, sports on campus and much more. Because, ultimately, potential students come to a campus tour for information, not to have their tour guide turn their back on them and make small talk for an hour.
Graduate student, occupational therapy