This post was written by Alicia Lalicon, a junior at The College of New Jersey. It was originally published on The Prospect, a student-run college admissions and high school/college lifestyles website. You can follow The Prospect on Facebook and Twitter.
College tours are exciting. It's a completely novel experience, being surrounded by an entirely new environment that could be your future home in the next year or two. You could be reading under that tree, waiting for that same type of omelette, snoring in that classroom (just kidding, I hope). But it can also be intimidating, especially when it seems all the current students are looking at you like an animal at the zoo. I promise we don't mean to do that. Here's what we're actually doing.
1. We're looking to see if you're wearing your high school apparel.
You must have heard rumors that you can't wear your high school apparel in college, that it's like trying to hold onto a part of your life that's over. Don't worry; it's not true. Plenty of people wear their high school apparel. Mostly on bum days: to the gym or when lounging around the dorms. It's no issue at all. Nobody ever says, "How lame. He's still wearing his high school sweatshirt." The only instance where high school apparel is an absolute no is when you wear a varsity jacket. It was a status symbol in high school, but here, it's just an awkward, somewhat pitiful sight. Leave it at home.
We're also looking at logos and colors to see if we recognize you from our own hometowns. It's nice to see who's coming in from the same places as us.
2. We're looking to see what else you're wearing.
I'm serious. And I'm sorry. I know college is supposed to be a different atmosphere from high school. You can become whoever you want. You can wear that snapback you didn't think you could pull off last year. You can wear a dress and wedges on a casual day. I went from jeans and sneakers everyday in high school to heeled booties and the occasional skirt in college. It matters less what you wear here. People judge less.
But we still judge a bit. It's natural for people to make observations about others based on their appearance and clothes are a very prominent feature on which others can make their observations. Sorry.
3. We're thinking, MOVE.
Again, I'm serious. I personally give tours priority: I wait for the entire herd to enter a building instead of shoving past to get out. I swerve around the herd when there's space to do so. I respect all of you. You're all here for a great reason. But sometimes, it's like you guys think we have all the time in the world to accommodate your presence.
We are students. We have places to be, people to meet, tests to fail take. This requires us to walk/skate/bike on campus. So I ask for space. Just a one foot-wide space of sidewalk for us to shimmy through. You are all on a schedule, but our grades and, in turn, our futures depend on us following ours.
So please, don't make me slosh through mud next to the sidewalk on my way to a presentation. Compress the herd just a bit, and we can coexist on concrete together.
4. We're checking you out.
Yes, in that way: checking you out. The age/grade makeup of your friend group matters less in college than it does in high school. I had mostly older friends when I was a sophomore. Now as a junior, probably half of my friends are in lower grades. So we don't mind being your friend... or more.
One would think it's mostly predatory male upperclassmen preying on female underclassmen, like the college horror stories. But I'm sure there are plenty of female upperclassmen who scope out some male underclassmen. Like me.
I was a sophomore when I found my freshman boyfriend. Now I'm a junior with a sophomore boyfriend of over a year. Don't knock it until you try it. *wink*
5. We're exaggerating.
If you hear a particularly obnoxious person yelling across the lawn about how many drugs there were at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Halloween party last week, you can be 95percent sure they're joking. Some people think it's funny to do things like that. "Scaring" prospective/incoming students and their parents into thinking the school is a wild and crazy 24-hour, 2.0 GPA party atmosphere, I mean.
I personally think it's a senseless waste of energy. It's not humorous to me. It doesn't do anything productive for the school. So just ignore it, or laugh at it. I promise the joke will get old. But remember: they're always joking. I hope.
6. Some of us are thinking, JUST LEAVE ALREADY.
You'll hear plenty of complaints from students about the influx of people. At my school, we can usually walk about freely and at varying paces on all sidewalks. We can traverse the dining hall jungle well. Having tours around does inconvenience us. It's not what we're used to. But it's a minor inconvenience, I promise.
There are those that make it into a much larger inconvenience though. They complain out loud and very rudely: "Yeah... if more people could get in the way of me trying to go to class and get the education I paid for, that'd be great. Thanks!" Sometimes they dare to be eloquent: "Ew, get these tours away from me." But I promise again, most of us aren't like that.
Most of us just work around the tours. We may furrow our brows at being pushed off the sidewalk, but we forget it in the next three minutes.
Just enjoy your tour. Ultimately, none of us will remember you and none of you will remember us when you actually come here. Not in a bad way, just a "we mind our own business" way. Ask your ambassador good questions. Ignore any negativity. Check out the students who don't react to your presence. They're the ones who will give you a hint to what it's really like here. Get excited about college. They say it's the best years of your life, and so far it seems to be going pretty awesome for me. Hope it's the same for you.