It was a bitterly cold March afternoon, a perfect time to absorb the seasonal ambiance of Castleton State College’s frozen campus. A group of prospective students and their parents could be seen marching up, down, and across the property with their hands stuffed into their jackets, avoiding the sharp Vermont wind.
Although their hands were hiding, their ears and eyes were open in an effort to take in the information being delivered to them. The tour Friday afternoon was led by long-time Castleton State College tour guide, Joe Zeitler.
Zeitler, a senior sociology major, has worked in Castleton’s admissions office since his freshman year. And his experience in admissions work pre-dates the beginning of his college career.
“I’ve spent all four years of college doing admissions work,” Zeitler said. “And I did admissions work for three years at a prep-school in New Hampshire before that.”
This experience is obvious when prospective students and parents take a tour with him. He is well-spoken, informative, and quick with answers to frequent questions.
The tour begins with an exit from the warm and cozy Wright House, where the admissions department in located, and into the cheek-reddening cold air.
Zeitler begins his tour with a walk up the hill, with Woodruff Hall straight ahead. On this walk he learns a little about the four prospective Castleton students who are happily missing school today.
This particular tour offers a variety of different interests. One student is interested in the sports management program, one in criminal justice, another in forensic psychology — and one has no idea. His father thinks of answering for him, but is shot down with a menacing stare.
After visiting the Casella Theater, Zeitler lets everyone know that this will not be like the average college tour.
“I can remember being in your position and going on these tours,” he said. “In most cases, I felt like a dog on a leash. I’m not here to drag you around. I’m not here to waste your time.”
Zeitler lets his followers know that he will not harp on subjects that are of no interest to the group, and the tour carries on.
Along the way, some interesting characteristics and interests are revealed in the visitors. Rosabella Nazzaro, an 18-year-old senior from Long Island, N.Y. is visiting Castleton due to her interest in the forensic psychology program. When her father was asked what he liked about Castleton, he quickly responded, “I see a lot of Ron Paul signs. My lawn has them all over the place.”
Rosabella picks up her pace, leaving her parents behind.
Andrew Coggio, a 17-year-old junior at Rice High School near Burlington, was visiting with his mother. Alongside UVM and St. Michael’s, Castleton is on Coggio’s list of possible colleges that he would like to attend.
During the tour, he reveals that he has had a lot of traveling experience, including trips to London and various places in South America. As Coggio is ahead of the group, asking Zeitler questions about Glenbrook Gymnasium, his mother tells why he might want to go to Castleton.
“He’s traveled to all of these places, and he just loves Vermont,” she answered with a smile.
At one stop on the tour, outside Babcock Hall, Zeitler explains to the visitors about the Academic Support Center. One mother gleamed when it is revealed that students can receive help from personal tutors, and receive payment if they eventually become a tutor. Her son, standing safely behind her, rolls his eyes in disgust.
While visiting a suite-style dorm room in Castleton Hall, this same student finally finds interest in something. As his mother carouses through the living quarters, he is intense in his study of the “Beer Pong Rules” posted on the common area wall.
Zeitler continues the tour, pointing out the Fitness Center, which he says is “better than 95 percent of fitness centers in the country at colleges of this size.”
He points out the many renovations that have happened in recent years, and describes work that is yet to be done. This information is vital to the students and parents who are visiting, since it will directly impact them in their college career if they decide to attend Castleton.
The new Spartan Stadium, Glenbrook Gymnasium, and the new Campus Center are all slated to be finished by 2010. These students will be in the classes of 2012 and 2013.
Eventually, the visitors weave their way through the hungry stomachs and staring eyes in Huden, the Stafford building, and the Calvin Coolidge Library, sites that are all too familiar to our Spartan eyes, but overwhelming and exciting to these high school students.
In the end, Zeitler leads these welcomed visitors back the warmth of the Wright House for their admissions interviews, hoping that his tour has sold at least one student, or one parent, and has created a future Spartan.