College Visit

A Parent's Perspective on College Tours

3 min read

A tremendous amount of work goes into preparing your institution for visits from prospective students and their families. And, there are small details that can be the difference between a good and bad impression with visitors. Having the unique perspective of a parent’s feedback and experience can help.

Mongoose spoke with Mike Gluck, an author, marketing expert, and parent to two incoming college freshman about what he noticed when visiting schools with his two sons.

The discussion is based off  a limited sample size of twelve colleges and universities, highlighting  relevant insights that schools can use. Here are some of Mike’s top recommendations:


Consider What The Parent Is Thinking

When a parent sets foot on your campus, they have two thoughts in mind:

  • Can these people take care of my kid?
  • Can they prepare my kid for life?

“You’re looking for different things than your kids. He’s looking for, ‘How’s the food? Are people friendly here?’ For the parents, we’re looking at safety, we’re obviously looking at cost, and we’re really trying to read between the lines to see what a school is about.” - Mike Gluck


Is Your Institution Really Different?

Every school has dorm rooms, food, classes, tutoring opportunities, and mental health support. So, when families visit multiple campuses and hear about these things, they might not make a lasting impression. It’s important to find and talk about what makes your institution unique.

In a visit to the a university in Massachusetts, a tour guide pointed out their blue light system, which is a security system for reporting emergencies that just about every school has. However, this guide said that university officers respond to blue light calls in 60 seconds, while the average nationwide response time is 4-5 minutes.


“It stood out because it shows a real commitment to safety. If they have this data to prove it, they care about their students. When you’re sending your kid away, that’s your primary concern.” - Mike Gluck


Ask Questions

Tour guides should be engaging, but it’s equally important for them to ask questions to visitors. Students and parents are nervous and likely overwhelmed. Specifically asking parents and students what they want out of a college tour, and the institution, can help ensure visitors leave happy and likely to apply. For Admitted Students Day, one institution recruited students and volunteers to stand throughout campus with 7-foot tall signs that said, “Ask me.” 

It’s impossible to answer every question from every visitor on a college tour, but when your tour guides go the extra mile, it is an incredibly valuable gesture. One tour guide provided added value to a campus visit and made a great impression.


“My son was interested in STEM, so the tour guide said, ‘Oh, you want to go to a building on the other side of campus. Here’s where it is, here’s a map on how to get there.’ And that was actually the most meaningful part of that visit for us.” - Mike Gluck


Parents and students will often have questions after they’ve visited your campus. It’s a good idea to follow up a tour with a text message within a few days of their visit, asking if they need any additional information.


Be Honest

In the long run, it makes sense to be authentic and honest about your institution. If a visitor is asking questions and it becomes clear that your school won’t be a good fit for what they need, be honest about it.


“We had a couple of Tour Guides tell us, ‘You know what, this is probably not the right school for you.’ And that was great to hear.” - Mike Gluck


You not only help students and parents through a hectic time by narrowing down their search, you help your institution focus resources on students who would be a great fit. Plus, parents who appreciate that honesty will become advocates for your institution and could recommend your school to others.


Listen to our full discussion with Mike below.




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