Muller: Prospective students hungry for useful tours, not grandma’s cookies

Reason No. 37 you should come to Geneseo: grandmother's cookies.

All students are assigned an on-campus mailbox in the Union that never changes, and thank goodness, because this ensures that grandmother's cookies will not be lost or misplaced on their way to your hungry homesick belly.

How do I know this? I happened to be working on a project in the Union Saturday morning and I heard this silly narrative recited by every single tour guide that passed within earshot.

Every single one! The same damn story about being excited to get grandma's cookies in the mail!

I understand that the admissions office wants tours to have some kind of consistency, but I can't help but think this is completely ridiculous. If Geneseo students are really as bright as the SAT spread implies, shouldn't they, at a minimum, be able to think up their own anecdotes?

As if the cookie nonsense wasn't enough, I overheard one tour guide tell a tour group that Late Knight activities are her favorite activity at Geneseo. I nearly fell off my chair!

I have no problem with tour guides highlighting some of the more interesting aspects of the school and downplaying annoying realities like program cuts and rampant alcoholism, but to suggest that tie-dying is the popular thing to do on a Friday night here is a dirty lie.

I toured several colleges when I was in high school, but the only tour that ended up being at all valuable to me took place at Binghamton University. It was the day before Thanksgiving and all of the regular tour guides had gone home for break, so my group went with a backup tour guide who admitted she was not fully trained to conduct full tours. Her presentation was a little unorganized, but it was honest and informative. My mother asked if many students drank, and the guide responded simply: "We are adults, and it's something that can be done responsibly. It's not for everyone." I did not tour Geneseo.

It seems that many schools are eager to boggle students and their families with references to unusual student organizations, free transportation to everywhere in the world and obscure campus legends, but how many people are really going to college so they can start up a chapter of Quidditch Club? Higher education is expensive, and families travel long distances to try to get a sense of what will make their child happy. If they're willing to spend a weekend here, have the decency to talk to them about what really matters.

My futile wish is that tour guides will simply present this school as a place to get an imperfect but very good and very affordable education. Show the facilities, but talk more about what it's like to be a student here and less about all of the equipment that the library can loan out.

And please, cut the cookie speech. I didn't hear anyone laughing.