Freshman year is a stressful time for many, even those thinking that they are ready for the challenge of college. From the perspective of a dual freshman college student and campus tour guide, expecting freshmen to work demanding hours for little pay is unjust and adds more unnecessary stress.
Paying students a wage to not only support their studies, but encourage them to continue to provide a positive image for the school should be of the utmost importance to the Office of Admissions.
Before you sent in your deposit, chances are you went on a campus tour.
Smiling student representatives brought you around campus, explaining each building and answering question after question about what is available to students.
If you’re lucky, you might get not just one but two tour guides. Only thing is, one of them doesn’t have that cool silver ID tag like the other one.
The guide that doesn’t have the ID tag is a trainee. They are expected to do four months of training for the school with a minimum of eight hours logged per week, including office hours answering phone calls for the office of admissions. They only become a member of the team once they complete that training, but it is all unpaid for four months.
In the end, you recieve a $250 stipend for four months of training and sacrificing valuable time to help the school.
Of course, this is not to demean these hardworking students. Representing your school is serious business. When you’re a tour guide, you are essentially the first line of defense for a school and its reputation.
People might ignore those PowerPoints and folders of information, but they will remember the tour they had and the insight they were given. Because of this, it is inappropriate to underpay these tour guides.
When I became a Montclair State University Red Hawk, I was offered the opportunity to become a student ambassador. It was exciting because I had practiced being over-the-top energetic for hours on end and it would be great to make money off of introducing others to our wonderful campus.
However, as I soon found out, there were a lot of drawbacks.
As a freshman, had I chosen to continue my job, I would only be paid in experience. I would have to devote three hours of my schedule from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every day, excluding Sundays, depending on course schedule and weekend plans. All of this time working would not even guarantee me the uniform, an ID tag of my own or resources to make up for the time I spent giving tours.
My solution is to do the right thing and pay student ambassadors. The New Jersey minimum wage is $11 an hour. Treat these students like university employees. It is not always easy to be consistently peppy and energetic while meeting potential students early on weekend mornings.
If you pay them, chances are people will stay and work with these hours knowing there is a monetary reward that isn’t just a $250 stipend that is months away.