Student preview ignores real issues

Another Preview day has come and gone, the dining centers have exhausted all their best food, the student employees all their best smiles and the tour guides all their lame jokes.

We go through approximately three of these days a year, with President’s Day being the crowning glory, mostly because all the high school students have the day off. The campus is crawling with around 2,000 of the infamous “orange baggers” who carry telltale orange bags from their purchases at the University Bookstore. Many of them wear their letterman jackets that proudly proclaim: “I am a prospective student!”

Current students have a chance to perfect our camouflage tactics by putting on our iPods, sprinting to class and making no eye contact with the tour group stragglers, who will inevitably ask us for directions. This in spite of the fact that the University has stationed a dozen people outside in the cold, wearing all orange with a big sign taped to their forehead that says “ask me for directions, that’s why I’ve been standing in this same spot for the last hour!”

Okay, maybe they don’t have signs, but it’s still pretty obvious.

The University explains Preview Day as its way to get prospective students interested in Bowling Green and to get them acquainted with the campus.

So why then, do the parents ask all the questions? As a resident advisor in Dunbar, home of the Honors program, I gave about a half dozen tours on Monday morning and only got asked one question by a student, and that was: “where are the bathrooms?”

Why not have a student-only preview day where students can come in by the bus load and ask the questions they actually need answers to? Parents tend to dominate the tour guide by asking a constant stream of questions to which their sons and daughters just roll their eyes. Some such questions I experienced were: “So should the students have their own computer on campus?,” “What are the ID cards used for?,” “Do the bathrooms get cleaned?,” and of course “Do students have to request to live on an all girls floor?”

So my point is, if it is the students who essentially have to live here, why not invite them for a day, sans parents, to talk to other students and faculty members to find out what they really need to know. Like, for instance, where all the dining centers are and where to find the best food. Maybe how to buy your books cheaper by going online or to SBX, or what there is to do in town during the weekends. What clubs and organizations are offered and what they should bring to their room besides a microwave, refrigerator, and extra long sheets.

To tell them the things their parents don’t want to hear, like where the clubs are and how to make an appointment with the health center. Explain resources like Vision (the LGBT awareness group), the Women’s Center and MEMPSA (men educating men on the prevention of sexual assault).

These are things students actually need to know, not just what their parents want to hear. I understand the kids cannot get here without their parents. The quick solution: Set all the parents up in the ballroom with snacks and a panel of students, resident advisors, faculty, and administrators and let them ask all the questions they want while their sons and daughters explore the campus. This keeps both parties happy and parents feel like they’re “in the know” about the goings on of campus.

Oh, and before I forget, let them talk to some real students while they’re here. Those of us that are giving tours are mandated by our jobs to give only the sunny side of life at the University.

Someone needs to tell them that the dryers don’t dry in less than an hour and the fire alarms go off at the drop of a hat. Let these prospective students know they’re going to need air freshener and really big garbage bags. Last but not least, warn them that if they’re going to live in McDonald, they are going to need an alternate place to study, and probably ear plugs to sleep.

If these students really are going to be our incoming freshmen, let’s educate them properly and let them take their first steps as adults by allowing them a day to ask the questions that they need to know, and leaving their parents behind, if for just a day.

Send comments to Amanda at [email protected]