Why college tours are still important

Ahh, yes, the ole College tour remains alive and well.

Even in a horrible economic downturn, that elusive but all-important variable, college “fit,” still encourages families to spend money and time to travel and tour prospective college campuses. People still want and need to feel welcomed, to be part of a community, and to touch and feel their surroundings. People want the experience -and the experience is always personal.

In the meantime, institutions work feverishly (and spend exceptionally) to make their curriculum and overall experience more consumer-friendly, digital, and, regardless of their efforts, less personal. They tout new on-line programs and other ease-of-degree initiatives which encourage learners to be concerned less with the attainment of a learning habit and more concerned with the attainment of a degree. Institutions are commodifying themselves!

And all the while, many prospective students and their families are sending signals that they want something different. They want community and they want a transforming and personal education experience. Many students want that rare connection that comes from a richness and fullness of experience and, in many instances, institutions are touting ease of degree fulfillment.

Sure, when your tuition is more per year than the competition’s, its easy to think you have little chance at yielding students head-to-head. But such thinking is based on a philosophy that has at its center the commodification of education – all education is equal and so we should decide on price. I happen to believe that you work for an educational institution which also has a value proposition to articulate. There is a reason the increased investment at your institution is worth it. Find out what it is and articulate the argument. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to say, “not only will you get a first-rate degree here, but we’ll offer you something more and valuable – community, mentoring relationships which emerge from being “in vivo,” individualized and whole person experiences, and a curriculum which will encourage a lifelong habit of curiosity.” Isn’t it something, even in today’s world, people still crave those attributes.

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