Let’s all admit it: one of the most powerful draws to a college campus is the campus tour. It is a massive swaying point in many people’s college decisions, and USC capitalizes on that fact by making tour guides the best they possibly can be.
That’s why I’m here, and that’s why I applied to be a Student Ambassador for the Admission Center… on top of being a Viterbi Ambassador as well.
Albeit a hectic job, working with prospective students is a lot of fun. Obviously the best part of the job is giving tours, where I get to let my personality shine while showing prospective students around campus (and of course incorporating some terrible jokes along the way). I’ve given tours to people from all over the world, ranging from South Los Angeles to India.
One of the least mentioned parts of becoming a Student Ambassador is the training process. To be a USC Tour Guide, you have to undergo a 15 week training process that involves weekly quizzes, a 22 page written final, a presentation approval, and three separate tour approvals. During the time as a trainee, I spent 7 hours per week in the office (either working, taking quizzes, or being trained), and multiple hours outside the office either practicing my tour with coworkers or memorizing a staggering amount of information about every professional school at USC. But the payoff is definitely noticeable: not only do I know about some of the lesser known (yet absolutely amazing) programs on our campus, but I also can navigate this campus forwards and backwards, taking both the scenic and quickest routes. I get to watch prospective students look around our campus somewhat in awe, internalizing the information I’m spewing at a rapid-fire pace, all the while becoming excited about the idea of life at a university in general. I have made some of my closest friends through the job and often take quick excursions to the ice cream shop Salt & Straw (which has become an Admission Center tradition), or weekend trips to places like Lake Arrowhead or Dockweiler State Beach.
It is very daunting on paper, but the reward is absolutely worth it. When giving a tour, you can tell when you connect with a prospective student or when their eyes light up and they think they’ve found their future home. On so many occasions, I have had my freshmen friends ask me to thank their tour guides for convincing them to come to USC, and I am looking forward to experiencing that starting in the fall semester. This past week, I had a guest from my first ever tour come up to me and thank me for helping them find their home for the next four years…there is no experience that is more humbling or heartwarming.
If you are like myself and found yourself personally touched or impacted by a college tour you took, I’d recommend applying to become a tour guide. Not only do you have the amazing opportunity to give back to prospective students, but you will also meet some of the zaniest, funniest, and most passionate students the university has to offer.