Insights and Advice

Admissions tour guides narrated a new campus tour video.

Get campus-visit advice and unique insights into Dickinson from three of our tour guides

Dickinson’s tour guides have some of the most prominent jobs on campus—and not just because they’ve mastered the art of walking backwards. On the front line daily, they promote the college and share their experiences with prospective students and families from around the world. The impressions they make, stories they tell and advice they offer are often what visitors remember most.

With the launch of Dickinson’s new campus tour video, we asked a few of the tour guides featured in it to share some of that exclusive insight with us. Discover what Alex Dillon ’17 (earth sciences, East Asian studies), Elizabeth Marin ’18 (Latin American, Latino & Caribbean studies) and Ian Hower ’16 (political science, law & policy) have to say.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard or given about visiting colleges?

Alex: “You shouldn’t attend the college that other people want you attend; you should go to the college that you want to go to.” My drum instructor from fourth grade through high school gave me this bit of advice. He was kind of a crazy dude, but he gave great advice. 

Elizabeth: You should do it yourself. You should ask the questions. You should make the appointments. You should hold the conversations. This entire college-search process is about you—trying to understand who you are and who you can be. When I visited colleges, my father would always disappear into the landscape. I would turn to ask him something, and he would be gone. I didn't have him to rely on, to communicate through; instead, the stress and pressure were put on me. It made me grow and really make connections with everyone I met with during these visits.

Ian: Listen to the people around you while on campus. Judge the college by the conversations that the students are having. Those will be your peers—what kind of peers are you looking for?

What’s one thing you always tell your tour groups?

Alex: I go to the gym every day! But usually it’s when I'm giving a tour. (Cue soft chuckling from parents in the group.)

Elizabeth: I remember how stressed out I was during the search process. To me, which institution I chose was going to cement who I would be for the rest of my life. Naturally, I soon learned this is not the case. Instead, being at Dickinson has transformed almost all the sectors of my life; it has challenged my goals and changed my mind. As a result, I always tell my tour groups that the reason I chose Dickinson is different from the reason I stay. Change is inevitable, and college is a beautiful place to have this happen.

Ian: Of the colleges you visit, 75 percent of what each liberal-arts college offers will be the same: small class sizes, great professors, etc. Find out how the other 25 percent of that school is different, what makes it special. At Dickinson it's our commitment to sustainability and global education but also how integrated the students are in the governance of the college and how strong a role we students play in decision-making at the college.

If you had to give a two-minute tour of Dickinson, what would you show?

Alex: I would definitely show the Rector Science Complex—it’s super cool and looks great. People absolutely remember it, and I have tons of jokes for when I’m in there!  

Elizabeth: I would show Archives & Special Collections or The Trout Gallery. I love showing the archives because it embodies the nature of all the resources on campus. It's rooted in tradition and culture, yet it's a source of great interaction and education. You can walk in and literally be in the midst of 200-plus years of history. The Trout Gallery is not part of our tour right now (although it always gets a shout-out), but it is one of the main reasons why I chose Dickinson. Whenever I’m having a rough time, I walk in there and sit among the art on display. It contains such talent and beauty. 

Ian: The Academic Quad. It is the most beautiful space on campus but also the reason we're here. We come to college to learn from fantastic professors—that’s what matters most about a college.

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Published November 6, 2015