Now that spring break is over, more charismatic students can be found leading around packs of prospective freshmen, showing them all the wonderful things Rollins offers. I remember being in awe during my tour; everything the guide told me felt special and sacred, like she was telling me and only me all the secrets she had learned during her time at Rollins. My nephew is now one of those prospective students, so I recently joined him for his tour, eager to see him interact with our campus and maybe even fall in love with it like I did. As an enrolled student who has already experienced the #RollinsLife, however, I can now see the limited view into student life freshmen get on our tour.
The stop in the Campus Center was my favorite part of the tour. Rollins does have great food in comparison to other campuses, which the guide stressed, but she didn’t mention how those vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options become very limited some days. The time of day also dictates what students can eat on campus; Dave’s Boathouse is advertised as the “late-night” option, but that depends on how one defines “late-night.” When the Marketplace closes at 7:30, it’s easy for the unhealthy pub-style food to become a dietary staple, not just a supplement to the diet encouraged by the upstairs menu.
Aside from skimming over the dining options, my tour only highlighted the center of campus. We stayed within in the well-lit and welcoming areas, not taking students near the places by the west end of campus that get dark and creepy at night, or the infamous McKean Hall, where they could easily end up living their first year.
Instead, my tour hit several major locations on campus as we looped through Ward Hall, up into the Campus Center, and in front of the Annie Russell Theater before stopping in Bush Science Center on our way back to the admissions building. This path showcases several of the important locations, but not all of campus looks as picture-perfect as what the tour would lead one to believe.
To my amusement, the tour guide also touched on the issue of the lawns. She mentioned how seriously Rollins takes its grasses, even going into specifics as to how the grass on the Cahall-Sandspur Field helps athletes’ joints. What she did not mention, however, was that the replacement of the lawns results in the frequent early-morning construction about which students often joke. To keep up the Rollins aesthetic, Mill’s Lawn is also regularly replaced, but luckily for students, that construction is saved for certain times of the semester or during the summer.
Our beautiful campus looks as great in-person as it does on our website, and it doesn’t take much for tour guides to talk up our excellent academics, professors, and everything else. I understand only showing certain aspects of campus life to prospective students; it makes sense to put our best foot forward, but after seeing the reality of student life, the way tours advertise campus is a little misleading. The half-truths and omissions, though hilarious to a current student, could feel like more than just white lies to someone looking for their home for the next four years.