Admission Tour Guides
You might wonder, how do BB&N students feel about the place where they spend the majority of their waking hours nine months a year? Well, the Admission Office is so confident in students' answers to that question that our Upper School tours are run exclusively by students. In fact, an astounding 220+ students volunteered this year to serve in that role, a statistic that we consider to be one of the most compelling examples of the high regard that BB&N students hold for BB&N
Upper School Tour Guides Lead the Way
You’ll see them walking the halls of BB&N’s Upper School nearly every day from November through January, tentative observers on the periphery of the ever-active Upper School community. They are prospective students touring the School, and along with their parents, they have roughly 30 minutes to ingest everything that BB&N has to offer—a nearly impossible task given the myriad activities that make up a typical day at the 80 Gerry’s Landing campus.
Luckily, they are not alone. Every tour is led by the most qualified guides imaginable—BB&N students.
“I think tour guides often make or break whether a prospective student comes to the School,” says Ellie Loughlin, Upper School Admission Associate. “A great tour can really make the difference in choosing between two schools.”
Loughlin oversees the tour guide program at BB&N along with the Student Admission Board (SAB), a group that helps to cultivate new guides, reach out to prospective parents, and staff Open Houses. It’s a job she blanches to admit has been rather easy this year due to the incredible caliber of the guides.
“It’s not anything we the admission staff are doing, it’s all coming from the kids,” Loughlin says. “These students really want to share their BB&N experiences…they volunteer their free blocks to lead these tours, and we all know how valuable time is around here, so that says a lot.”
The sheer number of students eager to help out says even more—this year more than 70 students from grades 10, 11, and 12 are helping to lead tours. If that sounds like a lot, it is, but it’s also necessary. During peak months (now through the new year), the Upper School hosts close to 50 tours a week. And each tour demands it be catered, with genuine excitement, to the prospective student’s particular interests.
“It doesn’t matter how great the teachers are or how beautiful a classroom looks, if the guides aren’t enthusiastic about them, it really doesn’t matter,” Loughlin says.
Senior Abbey Bliss (pictured above in front of the Wood Studio), co-president of the Student Admissions Board, knows the significance of a good tour all too well.
“I came to BB&N in 9th grade and I looked at seven different schools, so I know this process really well, and it can be a daunting one,” she says. “Tours are such a huge part of what attracts a person to a school, so I wanted to help be a part of that process for others.”
She and fellow SAB president Noah Randall oversee the 20-person group. Of their many responsibilities, Bliss’ favorite is leading the tours themselves. And like all of the guides, she has her own style.
“I cater the tour more to the prospective student than the parents…I feel it should be their choice where they go, and you want them to be happy,” Bliss says. “Of course, the parents are part of the equation, but I like to think of the tour as being for the student.”
New guides begin the year by shadowing an experienced guide, but they quickly adopt their own methods and learn to mold tours as they unfold. If a prospective student’s face lights up upon seeing the theater, you can bet the next stop will be the costume room. And being a guide comes with some unexpected perks, according to Bliss.
“Being a tour guide helps you appreciate how much BB&N has to offer. Maybe you’re having a bad day, but then you give a tour and it reminds you what a great place this is and how much you have to be thankful for.”
There is also, of course, the satisfaction of knowing you helped someone make a difficult choice a little easier.
“The best thing is seeing a student to whom you gave a tour come to the School,” Bliss says. “That’s a great feeling.”
The excitement exhibited by the guides has proven infectious, and this year it seems to have permeated the entire touring process.
“I’ve learned to get out of the way and let the students speak for themselves,” says Geordie Mitchell, Director of Enrollment Management. “They are our ‘product’ and we want parents to say, ‘I want my kid to have an experience like this [tour guide]—the students running these tours make that a reality.”
(article from 2011)