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The 4 toughest questions I’m asked on a campus tour

Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

As a Campus Tour Guide, I am often asked questions that are tough to answer. Although many questions people ask are ones I can easily answer like, “How many students study abroad at Juniata?” Many of these questions can be answered by skimming our website. However, there are other questions I’m asked that are more subjective. I’ve picked the top 4 tricky questions I get asked on tours and break down my answers.

#1. How is the food?

I love having the opportunity to answer this question. Seniors at Juniata right now definitely have the advantage in answering this question because we got to experience both Sodexo’s (our previous food service provider) and Parkhurst’s (our current food service provider) dining styles. We’ve seen Juniata expand their dining services and offerings, which is cool. We’ve seen the implementation of the little allergen icons on menus, the debut of the Clean Plate station—both of which were game-changers for people with allergies and dietary restrictions. That’s my long-winded way of saying that Juniata students constantly push our dining services to reflect our wants and needs. Trust me, as far as the taste of the food goes, Parkhurst does a mean grilled cheese and tomato soup (and an amazing job with everything else, too).

#2. What is your favorite thing about Juniata?

This is possibly the most common question I am asked on tours and it’s a difficult one because of just how personal it is. Truly, there are many things I love about Juniata and it’s hard to narrow it down to just one, which is another reason I have trouble answering this question. I tell prospective students that I always come back to the community. I firmly believe that you’d be hard-pressed to find another college who pays so much attention to our student mental health that they cancel classes one day each fall and send us to a beautiful lake to decompress; to find another college where, amid a global pandemic, people still greet you with radiant smiles (or mask-induced eye squints) when you’re walking between buildings. There are so many small illustrations of Juniata’s community that you just won’t find on our website.

#3. What’s one thing you wish you would have done at your time at Juniata?

Another tough question…the answer to it will, obviously, vary depending on which tour guide you’re lucky enough to have on your campus visit. Personally, I feel like I’ve gotten most everything out of my time at Juniata that I wanted to. I joined a club and dedicated myself to it (shout out to the rugby team!). I got really involved in my POE and got to know the professors and other students in the department. I tented and attended Madrigal every year (until this fall because, well, COVID…). When I really think about it though, the one thing I wish I had done was to get involved in student government. Whether they’re helping to put on events like Dogs and Donuts during finals week or rewriting parts of actual Juniata policies, student government representatives always seem to be doing things to better Juniata’s community and I wish I would have thought earlier to become a part of it.

#4. What would you recommend to someone on their college search?

Searching for colleges and finding your perfect fit is a different process for everyone, so I can only give advice from my own perspective. Trust your instincts. You can make a million pro/con lists and spell everything out as logically as possible, but the only way you can find the place that’s right for you is based on the feeling you get when you set foot on campus or when you’re talking to someone who is involved with that place. Does school X fill you with joy, or make you feel overwhelmed? Don’t be afraid to reflect on your own emotions and to trust them.

Or… if you want… you can do what I did and you can flip a coin.