Northwestern tour guide application process remains highly competitive

Maria LaMagna

Students who entered one of the most competitive selections on campus-to become a Northwestern tour guide-will soon find out if they made the cut.

Applications for tour guide positions were due April 28, and applicants have already found out if they were selected for interviews, which will take place from Friday through May 19.

They find out shortly after the last interview concludes if they earned the coveted positions.Caitlin Smith, assistant director for undergraduate admission, who is in charge of the program, said there are several reasons tour guiding is such a desirable campus job.

“People are really excited about Northwestern and they see tour groups-especially in the month of April when we have our admitted student programs-and so many visitors on campus and they want to be part of that,” she said. “Almost all the students that applied were telling us about their excitement about Northwestern. It’s one of the jobs on campus that you don’t have to be work-study for, so that helps too.”

Smith said the Office of Undergraduate Admission received more than 330 tour guide applications this year. She added she is unsure how many they will be able to hire.

Currently, there are about 100 tour guides working on campus. Once tour guides are hired, they are not required to re-apply.

Medill senior Elizabeth Weingarten applied to be a tour guide in the spring of her freshman year and has continued with the job since.

“I originally applied and decided to become a tour guide because of my tour guide when I was a prospective student. She was so cool, so funny, and I really looked up to her even though I was only with her for about an hour and a half. She was one of the main reasons I decided to come to Northwestern.”

Weingarten said she thinks tour guides have the power to affect a prospective student’s decision of whether to attend the University.

“I don’t think I was a rare case, in that as a tour guide, if you give someone a good tour or you make them laugh, or you show the University in a positive light, that has a huge influence,” she said. “Students are placing the University with a face.”

Weinberg sophomore Anirudh Malkani, who hit the pavement with prospective students and visitors for the first time this year, said the tour guides also enjoy several benefits. He said he is paid $16 for a 45-minute tour.

“The pay is good for 45 minutes of work,” he said. “I wanted to do something that I’d have fun doing, and I have a lot of fun showing around Northwestern’s campus.”

A freshman applicant, who requested her name not be used because tour guide selection is ongoing, said she has mixed emotions about the rest of the application process. She found out recently that she will advance to the interview stage. “It’s a group interview, and I have not prepared for it at all,” she said. “I don’t know if there’s much preparing you can do. I’ve never been in a group interview before, so we’ll see.”

She said she would like to be selected and impact prospective students’ experiences visiting campus.

“It’s a cool way to leave your legacy because you can encourage people to come, and a lot of people might base their decision on what you talked to them about,” she said.Still, she said she is trying to remain relaxed.

“I’m going into it with a very open mind, and I’m not very worried about it,” she said. “There are very limited spots so it’s not a big deal if you don’t get it … but it would be really nice to.”[email protected]