So. You’re going to college. Maybe. Eventually. Somewhere. Where? To study what? Why? Who knows, maybe you do but maybe you don’t. In any case, you might tour some schools before making your final decision. Here are just a few suggestions for how to make the most of the tours. (tomorrow I’ll post tips for your parents, so they won’t totally humiliate you – if you’re lucky).
Be engaged. Be curious, look around.
Look the tour guide in the eye.
Smile at their cheesy jokes.
Ask questions. Of the tour guide, not of your parent. Unless you are asking for Swedish Fish (because of course your mom brought a bag full and is trying to eat them on the sly).
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed about what you don’t know. People like to be helpful and they like to feel like they know something.
Tell people where you are from in whatever form you choose to. You can be your passport country, your host country, your boarding school country, the country in which your parents pay taxes…be from where you want to be from but then own that, be proud of it. If you say you are from Kenya or Djibouti, you are intrinsically interesting and stand out, even if people don’t know what a Djibouti is.
Don’t expect your parent to talk for you. You do it.
Walk confidently. Don’t shuffle around with your head down. Pay attention, look up, notice. (Trust me, I saw a LOT of kids shuffling).
Imagine you are on an interview, don’t be a bump on a log. This is a huge decision, be involved in it. Make a good impression. The tour guide has no say over your acceptance but this is good practice.
Same idea regarding what to wear. Dress comfortably, like blue jeans and a t-shirt and tennis shoes, but don’t wear ultra-short sport shorts or pajamas. I’m being serious.
Know what you are looking for or what you are not looking for, at least as much as possible. Does the food or the sports or the music or the research facilities or the dorms or the cost matter most to you?
Enjoy it. Be curious. Enjoy exploring new cities and meeting new people and dreaming about what you can do in these places. Enjoy the chance to pick your parents’ brain on the drives and over meals. Enjoy their (probably dorky) company, they love you and are proud of you.
Chat with the other students on the tour. See what people are like who are interested in the same school as you.
Listen to your gut. How do you feel about a school? Your parents will want you to be objective but they also want to know that a place feels right. Trust your intuition.
Read Janneke Jellema’s essay in Finding Home for advice on transitioning to university as a TCK.
Read Marilyn Gardner’s book Passages Through Pakistan, especially the last chapter, for help in handling the emotional side of this major transition.
Read The Global Nomad’s Guide to University, by Tina L. Quick
What other tips have you found useful on college tours?