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Pomona’s student tour guides are full of facts
and fancy footwork...
Talking Fast & Walking Backward
Spend a little time at Pomona and you get used to seeing students
while gushing forth facts and anecdotes about the campus. These students
oddballs but ambassadors, and they’re invariably followed by groups of
and parents who have come to check out the College.
Student-led tours offer applicants much more than an opportunity to gawk
stately architecture and lush landscaping. The tour may be their first
chance to talk
to a Pomona student, peek into a dorm room and catch a glimpse of
college life. Comment
cards visitors fill out afterwards show that the tours often help high-schoolers
to apply here.
Leading these tours requires some fancy footwork in the literal and
whether the guide is walking backwards (so they can address the group
or fielding questions from parents.
On just about every tour, somebody sheepishly asks Nick Creech ’07 what
he doesn’t like
about Pomona. His response depends on his mood. One day, Creech might
while being at a small college has plenty of advantages; it also can be
Still, Creech is quite pleased he picked Pomona and it shows as he leads
around. Ever smiling, he speaks quickly but clearly, sharing as many
anecdotes as he
can about the campus.
“I could talk the whole time and not get to everything I could
theoretically say,” says
Creech, a cognitive science major who is mulling a minor in religious
Creech studied up on his facts when he became a guide, but much of his
from his own immersion in the Pomona experience. Creech is a busy guy.
He’s a member of
the men’s a cappella singing group, the college choir and the men’s
He’s doing research with Professor Deborah Burke and is participating in
Having students lead the tours is key because they can talk about what
taking and what it’s like to be a student. Visitors “feel like they’re
inside scoop,’’ says Daniel Krause ’99, an admissions officer who
oversees the tours.
Guides are unpaid, but Krause typically gets more volunteers than he
volunteer because they had positive memories of their own tour at Pomona
when they were
deciding on colleges.
Guides go through a training session, take a mock tour with a student
intern and then
go along with a more seasoned guide on a real tour. The backwards walk
is the source of
much joking, but guides aren’t required to do it.
While tours typically follow the same general route, guides can add
Creech likes to stop his group in front of a vending machine in
residence hall and note the box where students can request that their
be added to the snack selection. That’s an example of “the perks of
being here in a
small school,” he tells them.
Outside Thatcher Music Building, Creech stands next to a fountain and
tells the group
about the tradition of students getting thrown in on their birthday.
This fountain, he
notes, is perfect for the task because of its depth and proximity to
Tours are given three times each weekday while school is in session and
Saturday. The tours reach their peak in spring after acceptance letters
go out. Last
year, 200 people showed up for a single tour on the morning after a
weekend event for
Creech likes the idea of helping Pomona to attract a talented pool of
Earlier this year, a freshman came up to him and said “you gave my tour”
and said he
had enjoyed it. “He said that was part of why he applied to the school,”
“And he’s a great guy.”