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Posted at 11:31 PM ET, 03/29/2010

College Tour '10: Muhlenberg College

By Valerie Strauss

Muhlenberg College
From a parent

Good school, we hear, and we know people who love it, but my kid and I were really put off. First, we had a tour guide who had little that was interesting to say (and who, when asked which was her most intellectually exciting class, struggled to come up with one).

We didn’t take the tour guide’s blandness too much to heart, because we knew that no school can guarantee all their tour guides are stellar performers. But the pleasant woman who conducted the interview only turned both of us off even more. She talked extensively about how exclusive the school is, and how the admissions staff was proud because not every kid can get into the Ivy League, “and we get a lot of the kids who almost make it into Harvard.” It felt less like a talk about a college than about how cool it would be to gain admission to a really exclusive nightclub.

She was very friendly, but seemed unable to hear what my kid was saying about strengths and weaknesses. When we asked what a rising high school senior who loved Muhlenberg, but didn’t have great grades or scores, should do to impress the school, the admissions officer smiled and said, “Get great grades and scores!” It would have been better if she had just said, honestly, “You’re not going to get in without the grades and scores,” but I think she wasn’t even aware of the irony of her comment; she just didn’t hear us.

So, we all know not to base all one's impressions on one person (or even two), but we left the campus thinking, “Why bother applying?”

This is one in a series of reports that parents and students are contributing about their campus tours this spring. If you have visited a school and would like to participate, email me a brief report at You can find out more about College Tour ’10 and how to write about your college visit here.

Go to to see more college posts in the series.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 29, 2010; 11:31 PM ET
Categories:  College Tour '10  | Tags:  Muhlenberg College, campus visits, college admissions, college tours, college visits  
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Next: College Tour '10: College of William & Mary


A co-worker, a student at the local community college, once told me why she went there. She and her parents had toured the Big 10 state university, and on the way home, she noticed her parents giving each other that "Are you going to bring up the subject?" look. Finally, her mother asked her what she thought of the college.

"I noticed," she said, "that the student who showed us around didn't say anything aobut classes unless we asked him. He kept showing us the dorm the football players stay in and where they held the pep rally and talking about all the post game parties and the bull sessions in the dorms. The room and board sounds like a pretty high cover charge for a party. I was wondering if you would mind if I stayed at home and went to the community college for two years. I'd get pretty much the same courses, it would be cheaper, and I'd do more studying at home."

Her parents grinned at each other and said, "We were thinking the same thing, but we didn't want to give the impression you were too young to go away to college."

Posted by: sideswiththekids | March 30, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

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