As a drum major in his high school marching band, Matt Thomas mastered the art of walking backward. And that has turned out to be an essential skill for his job as a tour guide at Tufts University.
Mr. Thomas, who will be a sophomore at Tufts in the fall, is one of a corps of students entrusted with being the university's public face for potential applicants. For despite all the money that colleges and universities spend on brochures, Web sites and other marketing efforts, high school students and their parents often base their impressions of an institution on the young man or woman who has led them around campus for 45 minutes.
"We know that the campus tour has the biggest impact on whether a student decides to apply to Tufts or not," said Kerrin Damon, its assistant director of admissions.
Ms. Damon said the university had done surveys, querying those who enroll and those who do not, as well as students who visited Tufts and decided not to apply. Historically, the campus tour, which is given all year but draws heavily throughout the summer, is cited as the biggest influence on students' decisions, she said.
The New York Times reports that the campus tour is one of, if not the, biggest factor in whether students apply to a university.
Is that true for your student and your family? What was your impression during your campus tour?