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Tour guides lead a group of potential students and parents through a tour by Alden Library.

A day in the life of a college tour guide

Have you ever wondered what it is like to have a full day of bragging about your college and walking backward? College tour guides can be a crucial component in choosing a university. They help guide that process in the middle of the school day. Giving tours can undoubtedly be a rewarding experience; however, funny stories and strange encounters are sure to be expected.

Jacob Durbin, a fifth-year studying civil engineering, loves his job as a college tour guide and has been doing it since his freshman year. Being a tour guide has numerous opportunities and Durbin makes that point very clear.

"I love meeting people," he said. "It's a great way to do it because every tour, you meet different people, and most of the time, it's not the same people."

Durbin additionally pointed out how well one gets to know campus locations and Ohio University's many resources. He also mentioned the benefit of having a support group through the other tour guides and the good connections he has made. 

Chole Hendrikse, a senior studying plant biology, has been giving tours around OU's campus for over two years. She knows the path well and really enjoys showing students what OU has to offer.

On a chilly early morning, Hendrikse pregames her upcoming tour with an iced coffee from Court Street Coffee. The journey across campus starts in Baker University Center, where each tour guide lines up one by one, stating their name, year and major. Afterward, each tour guide is paired with a group of visiting families, and the tour is underway.

Many students who become tour guides have interesting reasons for doing so, whether they just need some extra cash for the weekend or they are getting over a fear. 

"I actually have really … terrible public speaking anxiety," said Hendrikse. "I figured this would be a great way … to get better at public speaking."

Another student tour guide, Mara Labedz, a junior studying psychology, was interested in the job because of her love for history.

"I love learning information," she said. "I am a massive history nerd, so I was like, 'Wow, oldest college in Ohio, I want to find out a bunch of information.'"

Labedz is approaching her first full year as a tour guide at OU. She talks highly about her experience and has plenty of funny stories to tell.

"Honestly, if you're going to get a campus job, it should be a tour guide," she said.

Hendriske begins her tour outside of Baker Center, walking up to Court Street, through Alumni Gate and across College Green. At each stop, she provides information about the buildings in the area, pausing for questions and entertaining stories that will hopefully bring out some smiles and laughs from the crowd.

"I'm really clumsy," she said. 

She tells families how she will occasionally trip over a stick on tours. Despite this, she gets back up and continues the tour as normal. 

Durbin shared his very first tour experience, which turned out to be one of the most memorable. 

"We get outside, I introduce myself and say, 'Alright this is my first ever tour,' and some kid asks, 'Where's Court Street?' right out of the gate," Durbin said.

Ladebz said she had an interesting experience with a tour group and a teacher's aide who wanted to view a unique piece of history.

"She was like, 'I came to the library to see a piece of Hitler's urinal,'" she said. "I was like, 'What?' because I thought she said journal. She did not." 

Hendriske continues her tour through Alden Library, jokingly making sure the group knows the dangers of raspberry croissants and the reality of the "freshman fifteen." The group makes their way into Shively Hall, where Hendriske answers several questions about living on campus. 

Through Nelson Dining Hall and Ping Recreation Center, the tour comes to a close. Hendriske finishes her job and prepares for her classes for the day—just another day of persuading potentially the next generation of Bobcats. 

"I've yet to meet somebody that I haven't enjoyed," said Labedz. "All of these families are so excited to be here and I'm like, 'On my tour, I could have a future Bobcat.'"


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