All about the image?

A fearless (and fiercely independent) tour guide

Since my freshman year, I’ve been a tour guide for the Office of Admission. Each week, and usually multiple times, I lead guests across the Pitzer campus for an hour while highlighting what I find to be what makes our institution strong and unique among small liberal arts colleges. Although it is a paid position, and I’m expected to follow a certain route and know the facts, the Office does not dictate what I say. In fact, I would venture that in many ways my tour is quite different from any other tour guide at Pitzer, just as their tour will have its own unique spin. I like that we have some “editorial freedom” for our tours. There is, however, one question that inevitably arises, and its the one I least like to answer:

How would you compare Pitzer to the rest of the Claremont Colleges?

And even though I know it’s a perfectly logical and normal question to ask, I always feel bad answering because, well, I don’t see them as completely separate institutions; while they may each have their own professors, student bodies, cultures, and the like, I see myself as a Claremont Colleges student. While I am proudest to be from Pitzer, I take a little ownership in all of the Claremont Colleges. I would guess that others feel a similar sentiment.

Another aspect always comes up during my tours:

Surprise. Visitors simply can’t believe how close the colleges are to each other.

While part of that may come from the uniqueness of the Claremont consortium model, I think that it comes from the distinct efforts of each college to individualize itself from the Consortium. So while we each benefit from the entire consortium, the schools, for the most part, downplay that relationship in the admissions process.

To see how close the image fit with the reality, I worked with Richard Ahne CMC ’15 to go inside the tours and find out what students were saying. In the end, we learned a lot more about the Consortium in regards to the admission process — and came up with some good advice for the Colleges.

I’m proud to say that the story, entitled “The United Colleges of Claremont,” is the cover story for the May 2012 edition of the Claremont Port Side.

You can read it on p. 12-13 of the PDF version of the magazine here or, for the  HTML version, here.

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About Jonathan Rice

Fulbright Fellow, Pitzer College alum, and communicator passionate about telling stories that make an impact.

Posted on 04/30/2012, in College, Commentary, General, Los Angeles-Claremont and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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