The 120 student guides on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus have to know a lot to lead 90-minute tours with prospective students and their questioning parents. Last year alone, some 50,000 people visited campus; that’s three tour sessions a day, six days a week during the summer and two tours a day, twice a week during the academic year.
Roughly 200 students apply each winter to be student guides. But getting the job is not easy. Roughly 150 students make the first cut, and just 40 new guides are chosen each year.
“We are looking for confident, enthusiastic, and welcoming students,” says Dustin Castro, ’12, the assistant director who oversees the program, explaining that candidates literally have to think on their feet. “One of the interviews features a round of quick questions that have been asked by prospective students and families.”
In response to the question “Why did you choose Michigan?” Castro says they like to hear answers that tell a story about their experience at U-M. New guides receive a 35-page information packet, online training modules, and quizzes as well as two days of group training. They also take part in monthly guide meetings featuring guest speakers such as leaders from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and the Department of Public Safety, who educate them on the University’s policies. The guides also benefit from sessions with faculty from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, who help them become better public speakers and teach them to use positive body language.
When asked about the biggest challenge for UM-Ann Arbor tour guides, Castro replies, without hesitation, “We know our guests mean well, but it’s impossible to know every aspect of every program or club. But not for lack of trying!”
Do you think you know enough to lead a tour? Take this 10-question quiz of random facts about the UM-Ann Arbor campus and find out.