200 Days in the Life of the College

Thursday, September 30, 2010

She gives the Hill a push by traveling in reverse

By Caitlin Fitzsimons ’11

Anyone who has visited Hamilton’s campus knows that the winter months make for slippery terrain and careful footsteps. Tour guide and future admissions intern Riley Smith ’12 is a seasoned expert at navigating the snow, but she finds that at any time of year the campus can present itself as an obstacle course. Following her sophomore year, Smith remained on campus as a guide and led up to five campus tours a day. Her many anecdotes of the perils of walking backward include a summer tour during which her sandals broke, leaving her barefoot to finish her route. But Smith persevered, tiptoeing down Martin’s Way, continuing to chat with her families.

With the exception of holidays and Saturdays, many tour groups are small. The intimate size allows Smith to really connect with her families. As she notes, “My best tours are the ones in which I have to jolt back and remember I’m giving a tour because we’ve been so involved in a personal conversation.”


Such conversations can make all the difference to prospective Hamiltonians, allowing them to distinguish Hamilton’s community from its peer schools. Taking the campus tour under the wing of a passionate guide such as Smith keeps the memory of Hamilton alive once families leave the Hill — that is, unless parents are so impressed that they film their tour guide, as several of Smith’s have done.