Did you know that St. Norbert College was founded in 1898 by Abbot Bernard Pennings? If you are a student at St. Norbert, I am sure it is at least familiar to you. The clues are right in front of your eyes; Abbot Pennings has a fine arts building in his name and a statue in the library, and the founding year of the college can be seen on our famous arch. What about more difficult pieces of trivia? Like what phrase can be found on the bottom of the presidential seal and what does it mean? Or, how much does it cost to replace your mailbox key if lose it (Hint: it’s the same numerical value as how many guest passes you get with a Platinum meal plan!) While it is easy to assume that being a tour guide is equivalent to memorizing facts and statistics, trivia and one-liners about the place we call our second home, being a successful tour guide requires immense empathy, integrity, and passion.
I have been a tour guide for St. Norbert College since the spring of 2017. After a rigorous application process, only a select few each year are hired to represent the student population of the college. Tour guides must going through a training process that includes going on an individual tour, yourself; experiencing and assisting in the tours of prospective students; and, finally, giving your first tour. While giving a tour may seem daunting at first-- with all of the information to memorize, the numbers, tips, and tricks-- it becomes much easier once you become comfortable with the true purpose behind each tour. Numbers and facts are important and can be relevant to the tour, but it is the comfort of the prospective student and the ability of the tour guide to illuminate what they love about SNC that is a tour’s true purpose. To be able to do this, one must have immense empathy, integrity, and passion. This is key. Only a few years ago, we were in their shoes, feeling the same pressure to find a place to continue our education. This can be a time of high stress and anxiety, a time where students face a near-complete lack of knowledge regarding the future ahead. It is up to us to make them feel calm, realizing that it will all be okay and that college is not as scary as it may seem. This also requires a lot of integrity. You must be honest, be yourself and tell your whole truth. Prospective students and their families want to see who you are, what an average student at SNC is like, not a robot spitting out memorized details about the institution. Finally, being a tour guide requires you to be passionate about St. Norbert. What do you love about SNC? What made you attend St. Norbert in the first place? What is your favorite thing about the college? These are the elements that make a great tour guide. I hope to see you with a “Follow Me” sweatshirt soon!