One of the most essential parts of visiting a college campus is the tour. Most parents and prospective students that visit a school might not remember what year the college was founded or how many clubs and organizations exist there, but may remember their tour guide and whether the tour was enjoyable or not. The latter is the exact reason I wanted to be a tour guide at Conn. I know the impact a tour guide can have on a student’s college decision (whether it be applying or choosing) and I hope to leave a positive mark on the families, especially the students, I encounter. Fortunately enough, I was hired as a tour guide in the spring semester my first year at Conn. It became an immensely enjoyable routine to walk to Horizon House (where the Office of Admission is housed) each week to greet families and walk them around our beautiful campus for about an hour.
Thinking back about the many tours I’ve given, I’ve gotten really great questions. For example, “how is the academic rigor in college different from that of high school?”, or “what is the relationship like between Conn and the City of New London?” and I’ve even gotten questions about how strong certain departments are. These questions are ones that I may or may not already cover as I’m giving a tour and, depending on their answers, might even be crucial to a student’s decision to choose Conn. Lately, it seems I’ve gotten more uncommon questions than common ones, and they sometimes (actually most times) catch me off guard, especially if they’re particularly uncommon. Atypical as they are, I appreciate them as much as typical questions because they require me to think about aspects of Conn I may have never considered important to a prospective student or family member. So here are the answers to the top five most uncommon and thought-provoking questions I’ve gotten on tours (there are definitely more).
Q: “If I triple major or design my own major, will I have enough time to study abroad, take electives and still graduate on time?”
A: I found this question slightly surprising because it was the first time I met a high school student that was so certain about their future plans. Normally, I only ask students to tell me their academic passions so that no one is forced to feel like they should know what they want to major in before they even apply to a school. I assured her that both triple majors and self-designed majors were available opportunities at Conn, and they come with responsibility. More than half of students at Conn study abroad, and it’s open to every student. Should you choose to triple major or design your own, you’d have to closely evaluate your options in terms of what classes you want to take and what you need to take each semester. It is not at all impossible to study abroad and/or take electives under either circumstance and graduate on time. Luckily, Conn has a wide array of courses in every department, many of which are cross-listed (meaning the course counts for credit in more than one department), and electives that can still count toward the major. We also have five academic centers and a new curriculum, called Connections, which allows you to integrate your interests through a major or majors and a variety of pathways, so you’re bound to find your fit.
Q: “My child is basically allergic to everything. How and where will they get to eat on campus?”
A: I told this concerned parent that one of the reasons I loved Conn before I visited was because I found out about the different dining options. We have three dining halls, one of which almost primarily serves vegan and vegetarian options. In each dining hall, ingredients are listed for each item and it is indicated whether they are gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan. You can also ask one of the staff members to get the specific ingredients in each dish or request to work with Dining Services on meal planning to ensure your dietary needs are met.
Q: “We’re from *insert usually warm state that doesn’t often see temperatures lower than 50 degrees.* Should I bring a coat and boots for the winter? Are the winters that bad?”
A: To answer the first question, yes. To answer the second question, not necessarily. It does get quite cold here in the winter, and we often do get snow. But I personally wouldn’t label the winters as “bad.” Then again, I’m from Chicagoland, and the winters there are bad. So, compared to where I’m from, the winters here are not bad. But yes, you should bring a coat and boots, welcome to Conn!
Q: “Do you all eat the chickens from the garden?”
A: No. No we do not. The student-managed Sprout Garden does provide produce to Harris (our largest dining hall) and Fiddleheads (a local co-op in New London), but the chickens next to the garden are only used for eggs, not meat. Don’t you worry!
#1 (the most surprising and bold question!)
Q: “So, off the record, what’s the one thing you hate MOST about Conn? *insert added comment like “You can tell us, we won’t say anything!” or “C’mon, there has to be at least one!”*
A: This one caught me off guard the most because it came from a parent who had really great questions throughout the duration of the tour, then waited until the very end to get the “real deal.” I told the parent that I don’t hate anything about Conn, and that the only thing I would change is the addition of a football team. I come from a high school that had a great team and part of the student experience was attending games every week, so I miss that. However, the only reason we don’t have a football team is because the school didn’t have one when it was founded in 1911 as a women’s college, and no one else established one. We also have a ton of other sports teams and students love going to games, especially basketball and ice hockey- so there’s definitely no lack of school spirit! If anyone wanted to create a club team, they definitely could as it’s very easy to start a club or organization here.
I’ve enjoyed each tour I’ve given, and hoped that the families I led around campus did too. As a tour guide, you’re trained before giving you first tour to learn how to field difficult or uncommon questions. In all honesty, these questions didn’t shock or scare me, they just taught me how to tailor my tours to individual families and be ready to think on my feet. So if you come to Conn for a tour, I’d love to be your guide- ask me anything!