Apr 15, 2015

Personalized college tours only a ‘Sherpa’ can provide

At Harvard, over 50 Sherpas are available for personalized tours.
So you and your family are well into your 10th college tour, and they’re all beginning to sound the same—blue lights, meal ticket swipes and thousands of books in the library.  

Or you’ve only got a weekend to visit three colleges, but you're forced to choose one because all three  scheduled a single weekend tour on Saturday morning.  And by the way, all three admissions offices close at noon.   

Or worse yet, the top college on your list has booked all available tours for the only week you're going to be in town.

It’s time to call in the Sherpas!

n. pl. Sherpa or Sher·pas

If you can’t stand the sameness of the standard college tour or your schedule doesn’t fit that of the college, Campus Sherpa can arrange for an individually tailored one-on-one tour of the campus of your choice, at a time that suits you and your family.

 A clever new business started by a couple of really smart Georgetown University students originally hailing from California’s Bay Area, Campus Sherpa has recruited teams of students on campuses in every corner of the country—some former tour guides—who stand ready to give personalized tours based on specific interests.  They provide insider access to classes, clubs, or activities, and they are free to give real insights not canned information vetted by the admissions office.  It’s like having your cousin or best friend tour you around their college—no holds barred and no lectures on how you can’t talk on the third floor of the library.

“Prospective students work with their Sherpa to develop a personalized itinerary, which allows visiting students to get exactly what they want out of their college tour, said Alex Mitchell, co-founder of Campus Sherpa.  “Utilizing a Sherpa’s personal student connections, visitors can meet with the president of a school newspaper, sit in on a fascinating class, see real student dorms, and get an in-depth experience of student life.”

Tours are booked online through the Campus Sherpa website, and every effort is made to match the Sherpa with the student requesting the tour.

Here’s how it works:
  1. The prospective student fills out a survey with their school of interest and the academic and extracurricular interests that s/he may have as well.
  2. Information is processed through a database that locates a Sherpa who meets the criteria and can perform a tour at the time the client specifies.
  3. The student receives an itinerary and information about the Sherpa.  If the match isn’t exact, the student can accept or decline the offer and amend the itinerary if necessary.
  4. The Sherpa receives the contact information for his or her guest and reaches out to them with contact information.  If there are any questions, the Sherpa will answer those as well.
Sherpas are very carefully vetted through a detailed application process that includes recommendations and interviews with the staff in Washington DC.  They are well paid, as an important part of the Campus Sherpa mission is to “put money in the hands of students.”

“My first experience leading a tour for Campus Sherpa was incredible!” said Kalil Grinberg, Sherpa at Rhode Island School of Design. “I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to others about college life, etc. with people who are about to experience exactly what I have been experiencing this year.”

And even in the first weeks of operation, much of the business is already repeat customers, anxious to replicate the experience on other college campuses.

“We decided to include UCLA into our college visit itinerary almost at the last minute,” explained one satisfied customer from San Ramon, California.  “Campus Sherpa organized a fantastic, personalized tour for us.” 

As a special “getting-to-know-you” bonus, Campus Sherpa is currently offering a 20% discount for independent and school-based counselors using the service to tour schools.  Interested counselors should contact sherpaalex@campussherpa.co, to obtain an activation code enabling the discount.

All others can learn more about and register for Campus Sherpa, by completing a simple form provided on the website.

In the coming weeks, prospective freshmen will be fanning out across the country for one last look at colleges on their lists.  If it’s the inside story they want, Campus Sherpa is who they should ask.

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