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Who Should Lead School Tours? Students?

5 min read
Mar 19, 2024 8:00:00 AM

School tours: as the LAST stop in a family’s enrollment journey, these are one of the most important, impactful moments when a family is making their final enrollment decision.

In my work helping schools improve their tour and give families the most authentic student experience, a question often arises: who should lead our school tour?

  • Should you rely on the professional polish of one of your staff members?
  • Should you lean into the authenticity a student tour guide can offer?

As always, there’s no right or wrong answer — but there are some pros and cons to consider when you’re deciding whether students should lead school tours.

Also, if giving great school tours is something you’re interested in, sign up for my upcoming presentation on Tuesday, March 26 — From Welcome to WOW: Creating Unforgettable School Tours. Click below to learn what I’ll be covering and to sign up while there’s time left!

Okay, that aside, let’s dive in: yes or no, should students lead school tours?

Pros of Student-Led School Tours

Here are some reasons why you should consider having students lead prospective families on your school tour!

1. Aspirational Impact

Imagine you’re the parent of a 14-year-old girl getting ready to enter high school. Seeing a mature, successful student guide leading a tour of the school allows you to think, “Wow! That could be my kid someday, and this school could help them become a student just like this one!”

Having a student lead your school tour functions as a subtle yet powerful way to connect a prospective family’s aspirations for their child with the reality of the school environment.

2. Authentic Insight

Students offer a genuine perspective on daily life at school without the filter an adult staff member might have. They speak from personal experience, providing a raw and authentic view of what it’s REALLY like to be a student there. This authenticity can be more relatable and convincing than a polished pitch from a staff member.

3. Building Connections

Starting a new school can be scary, but even knowing ONE friendly face at the school can alleviate a lot of nerves.

Having a student lead your school’s tour can foster a sense of camaraderie and approachability as well as bridge a connection between the prospective and current student. Prospective students might find it easier to connect and engage with a peer, making the tour experience more personable and less intimidating.

4. Showcasing School Spirit and Culture

Student guides naturally and authentically embody your school’s spirit and culture. Their enthusiasm and pride in their school can be really exciting for families to see, providing a vivid and positive impression of the school community.

By the way, if you’d like more free, enrollment-focused insights like this, sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter, the SchoolMint Insider!

Cons of Student-Led School Tours

Okay, so you got the positives. What could be some reasons against students leading tours? Here you go!

1. Variability and Control

Student ambassadors, while enthusiastic, might lack the consistency and control that adult-led tours offer. Their narratives and anecdotes will often be based on their own personal experiences, which might not comprehensively represent the school’s overall environment — or represent the messages you’d like prospective families to receive.

Of course, this can be mitigated with training and support, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

2. Limited Scope

Students are undoubtedly the experts in the “student experience” but might not have a broad understanding of your entire curriculum or the various programs your school offers or what it’s like to be a parent at the school. This can lead to a somewhat narrow view of the school’s offerings.

3. Challenging Questions

Parents might hesitate to ask tough or sensitive questions to a student guide. There’s a natural reluctance to put a young ambassador in a potentially uncomfortable position, leading to unanswered queries or concerns.

You don’t want your student ambassador to be put in a position where they have to answer questions about how IEPs or 504s are handled, so make sure that if you DO use student ambassadors, you don’t put them in a position where they might be asked questions they don’t know how to navigate appropriately.

4. Lack of Historical Perspective

Students, being relatively new to the school compared to staff and your school’s history, might lack historical context or understanding of the school’s long-term developments and changes over its history.

5. No Teaching Experience

This one should probably go without saying, but as great as our student ambassadors might be, they aren’t educators.

Student tour guides don’t have the comprehensive and deep knowledge to be able to explain pedagogy, curriculum decisions, or school practices as it relates to discipline, character education, and other school-level policies.

A Consideration Regarding Grade Levels

There’s the question of what ages are appropriate to task with leading tours. A lot of this depends on the grades your school serves. For example:

  • A 17-year-old senior leading a tour? Great!
  • A really responsible and polished 8th grader with staff support? Absolutely.
  • A first grader leading the tour? Probably a little too much pressure.

Whether you teach at a high school or a Pre-K program, there CAN be a place for student ambassadors in your tour. Having a dedicated group of students who welcome new families to the classroom is a great way to get even your youngest students involved and excited about enrolling new students!

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer as to who should lead school tours, a balanced approach gives you the best of both worlds.

Incorporating student ambassadors strategically in your tour can be an excellent way to create connections and lend a sense of realness to your tour experience, but it should be balanced with staff-led segments to make sure families have the opportunity to experience both the energy and authenticity of a student-led tour and the professional polish of a staff-led section.

If you’re wondering how to structure your tour, you can check out our resource library, SchoolMint Enrollment Academy, for how to set up Calendly to manage school tours, a video on how to lead an amazing school tour, and more!organizational management resources in schoolmint enrollment academy

Remember, the goal of a school tour is not just to inform but also to create meaningful connections that allow the prospective parent to imagine their child successful and happy at your school.

By carefully blending the insights of students with the expertise of adults, you can create a truly enriching and engaging experience for prospective families — an experience that nudges them toward enrolling with you.

Get a Third-Party Opinion on Your School Tour

If you’re wondering if your tour is encouraging families to take the next step, we’ve got you covered! At SchoolMint, we offer a unique secret shopper service.

With this service, one of our school tour experts goes undercover as a prospective parent and takes notes on everything you’re doing right with your tour as well as where you can improve to make it an engaging experience that makes families want to enroll.

Learn more about this service here, or click below to get in touch with one of our consultants for a secret shopper engagement!ready to increase enrollment banner ad

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