Dear obnoxious prospective parents and offspring, listen close and listen hard: I am about to educate you on the rules of how to not be what you currently are. We students don’t mind you visiting our campus during school hours, but we do mind you being the worst visitors when you enter our territory.
First things first: Most of us are trying to get somewhere on time—to a meeting or class. Your leisurely walk keeps me, the student, from getting to said place on time.
So please, stop walking at snail speed. It is so, so obnoxious. It’s like you’re trying to get somewhere, but then decide that it must take four times as long, as you move an inch a minute. Speed it up.
But to be honest, this applies to anyone. Tour groups are just the most common offenders. If you plan to move at the speed of a 300-year-old person, at least be polite enough to not walk four in a row. Shockingly, if I am on campus, it means I am probably going to class or work. If I am rushing, I’m late.
What’s one thing I don’t need right now? Fourteen different parents spreading out and blocking every doorway, staircase or sidewalk by a campus building.
If I need to weave like a damn game of Snake every time I walk to class, there’s a big problem.
You know something else I don’t need? You to ask me where something is when it’s literally right behind you. I get it, this campus is confusing and sometimes it’s hard to find things. If you ask me a reasonable question and do it politely and I’m not in a rush, totally good. If you ask me when I’m running to class, when the building is right in front of you or you are standing right next to an information session or tour guide whose literal job it is to help you, then we got problems.
The takeaway? Read signs around you before you bother me.
The other thing that causes me delays is something you see in every tourist city on the planet: people with phones. What exactly is so interesting about our library building? Why does it need a picture on its own, with your daughter, with your mom, with all three of you, with a selfie and in four different angles? Absolutely no reason at all.
If you’re touring campus and taking pictures, go for it. Show your grandmother back home what college your kid wants to go to. I don’t care. I just care when you’re taking way too many photos of absolutely nothing and getting in my way to do it. Your kid might not even go here, and yet there you are, snapping away.
And don’t even get me started on the kids that visit. Firstly, why are school groups visiting and touring the school? You know what seven-year old kids should be thinking about? College. For real, they’ve only got a decade to figure it out.
Why are kids worse than questioning parents? Good question, a debatable one, even. The main reason is that they are loud. They yell at each other and then the teachers yell while other kids run around bumping into people. It’s basically a disaster. Why is our campus being turned into a school trip? We aren’t a science museum. We aren’t a theme park. We aren’t a zoo (at least, before they arrived). Why are they here?
Now we can move on the part where you learn helpful suggestions that will make you a well-mannered campus visitor.
First, you must listen. Listen to the people around you, listen to your tour guide and listen to the people huffing and puffing as they run to class. You won’t ask stupid questions, you won’t block people’s way and you won’t be a pain to everyone around you (including me).
Also come in having done some research. Research what clubs you/your kid wants and what major/minor they think they like. Don’t ask for lists of the options or ask about a snowboarding team in Southern California. Know your surroundings.
Be nice when asking for directions. Or ask the people whose literal job it is to do that, AKA the info desk or your tour guide. Or Google maps. Or real maps.
Don’t be loud; use volume control. People hear you.
Do not ask a rushing student to stop and take a picture. Do not live through your phone or take selfies every three seconds – pay attention, listen, look around and try to learn. Texting Jessica about how hot the guy in your tour group can wait until later. Or better yet, never.
And dear parents, a special note for you. Don’t make your kid feel uncomfortable by showing them off. Don’t say your kid is the obvious choice for valedictorian or is the best trumpet player in the state or the best football player in the country. You sound arrogant. Your kid feels terrible And everyone thinks you’re lying. Know when to hold back the familial pride. Save it for college applications.
I get that it’s an exciting time touring colleges, learning about everything and taking pictures with your kid that you’re going to miss endlessly in a year. Enjoy the tours. Learn as much as you can. And most importantly, try to stay out of everyone’s way.