My College Roadtrip Revisited

Elin Lantz

Along with thick-lensed glasses-wearing nerds whose questions seem to never end and chubby young siblings who miserably stare at the ground for an hour, there I was on a college tour. I know, college tours are generally considered terribly boring, but since I have gone on 38 tours over my college search career (I know, how can you remember anything when you go on that many tours? I have no idea), I have found ways of making them surprisingly fun.

For example, I judged the tour guides on a scale from one to ten as to how well they can walk backwards. In many cases the guides had mastered the skill, easily gliding backwards, missing every pothole or stump along the way.

However, what I found much more enjoyable were the guides who were new, nervous, or terribly clumsy and who begged at the beginning of the tour, “Please warn me if I start to walk into a tree or something.”

Did they actually think I would warn them? Yeah right. It was much more fun to watch them stumble on a tree root and fall on their art history professors while profusely apologizing that this did not normally happen.

The whole situation became even more humorous when I went on a tour while it was raining, and everyone was befuddled (especially the male tour guide who was wearing white linen pants). No one could hear what was said because of the loud splashing of water and thundering of skies –– the only way you could possibly understand the tour guide was if you stood near to him and allowed your ears to be permanently injured by his screaming attempts to be heard.

The next best thing to do on the tours was to prep hunt (you know, the boys whose parents methodically straightened their backs so that they would look more impressive). Or I would scrutinize the girls with sour faces, staying at the fringes of the crowd because they forgot the memo and wore holey jeans. Then there were those who wrote down every bit of history about the college and plastered smiles to their faces. And the football players who hardly listened except when they asked if fraternities were popular.

I’ve gone on these tours so many times, sometimes I have even repeated at the same college. First I went with my sister. Then I went for myself. And then perhaps another time just to be sure I liked it. It has turned into a sickness for me. I became obsessed with percents and acceptance rates, studied the schools’ distributive requirements, and practiced interviews with my sister until I had intense headaches.

So if you are ever on a tour at Middlebury and someone in the back says, “Excuse me, tour guide, but you forgot to tell them that this is the largest window in Vermont,” you will know it’s me.