First impressions are everything. When young high school students first step onto our campus, bright-eyed and eagerly attentive, they should be met with the best, most thoroughly trained tour guides Georgetown has to offer. They should receive a tour that is interesting, content-rich, entertaining and factually accurate. In the summer, however, this standard isn’t always met.

Blue and Gray, the student-led organization charged with welcoming tens of thousands of prospective students to campus every year, has made improved tour guide training its top focus in recent years, which extends even into auditing the tours of established tour guides. Every semester, they carefully select around two dozen new tour guides from over 100 applications. These student volunteers are trained by veteran guides and subjected to intense scrutiny on their first few tours. While the program is far from perfect, we are satisfied by the seriousness with which Blue and Gray takes its task of showcasing Georgetown.

In stark contrast to the relative success of Blue and Gray, the admissions office runs a clunky campus tour program during the summer months. Mysteriously, the admissions office’s summer program is completely separate from Blue and Gray. The admissions office pays students about $8 per tour. Instead of a competitive application process that yields enthusiastic volunteers, students apply for the summer tour guide program in the same way they apply for jobs in the residence hall office or for work as a student guard in the Department of Public Safety. This process does not always yield students that are genuinely interested in attracting new students to the Hilltop. Instead, students give tours as a means of extra income or as a break from the monotony of the RHOs. Since tours are scheduled in the middle of the day, students with internships or off-campus jobs cannot participate. Unlike other on-campus summer jobs, student tour guides are not eligible for summer housing.

The admissions office should strongly consider restructuring this program next summer. On a campus which is far less crowded during the summer vacation than during the school year, why do we offer free summer housing to student workers that work in the RHOs and not to student tour guides? New Student Orientation coordinators are given free summer housing because they provide a fundamental and key service to the Georgetown community. Our school would be worse off without their presence here during the summer months. Good tour guides are equally important contributors to the Georgetown community; with each tour they help determine next year’s applicants, as well as the ultimate incoming class. Their presence in the summer is fundamental and should be treated as such.

Given that a board member of Blue and Gray tells us that August is one of the busiest months for tours, neglecting summer tours reflects severely misplaced priorities among the admissions office and the university administration. We suggest that the admissions office consider offering greater benefits to a small group of elite tour guides from Blue and Gray next year. Ideally, these students would be veteran board members. While giving tours is not a full-time job, there is surely other work that these students could help with in between tours. Not only would this raise the bar for summer tours, but it would also cut back on the choppiness that inevitably comes from having two organizations in charge of campus tours at different times of the year.

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