Each year Eastern Michigan University’s Office of Admissions employs about 28 EMU students as tour guides to escort incoming freshmen and prospective students around campus and answer questions.
A typical tour guide can give 2.5 tours a week, which is an average of about 120 tours per year. Each tour has roughly 15-20 people per group, so each guide talks to about 1,800–2,400 people a year.
Those numbers don’t include school group and scholarship competition tours or the Explore Eastern program for high school and transfer students.
The campus route we take tour groups on is 1.8 miles long, which means guides walk more than 200 miles a year – and they travel the majority of that distance while walking backward. Working as a tour guide for four years I have given approximately 500 tours, talked to roughly 10,000 people and walked backward about 864 miles.
Being an EMU tour guide requires more than being able to walk backward, and believe me it’s not as easy as we make it look. There is a lot of preparation involved before giving a tour. Guides not only need to know the history and names of all the buildings on campus, but also information about majors and minors, academic services, scholarships and tuition, dining and housing, athletics, student involvement and how to make the most of your college experience.
Besides being able to provide the basic facts about EMU’s campus, guides also need to know some “fun facts,” or the things that aren’t really necessary but are interesting to share nonetheless.
To that end your EMU tour guides will be sharing weekly “EMU Fun Facts” in The Eastern Echo’s comics section this year.
To kick off this new section of the newspaper, here is some contextual information about EMU that may help shed some light on the topics that will be covered in the coming year.
EMU was established in 1849 and opened its doors as the Michigan State Normal School in 1853. Michigan had only been a state for 10 years at that time.
In 1899, Michigan State Normal School changed its name to Michigan State Normal College.
In 1956, the school again changed its name and became known as Eastern Michigan College. Just three years later, the school gained the status of a university by formally establishing the Graduate School, all though graduate classes had been offered since 1939, and changed its name again to Eastern Michigan University.
Here are two samples of what you can expect to see in this new section:
The Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology Research Facility, located near the Mark Jefferson Science Building, is the only squirrel-proof building on EMU’s campus.
Starkweather Hall, which was built in 1852 just three days before Welch Hall, is the oldest building on campus and still has some of its original doorknobs that bear the initials of the Student Christian Association, which was housed in the building until the 1920s.
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