Everyone at Villanova has seen the experts at walking down stairs backward and that person in your friend group who remembers that Pit is also named Dougherty. They are Blue Key members, the students who volunteer their time to show prospective students all that the University has to offer. These people are some of the most important members of the admissions department at Villanova, and it’s time they are treated as such.
Blue Key members should be paid for their work. They are sometimes the people who make or break potential students’ decisions about applying to and ultimately attending Villanova. They have to memorize dozens of buildings and historical and current facts about the University and deliver all that information alongside charming personal anecdotes about their time as a college student. This is all alongside answering any inciting or inane question that comes from a concerned parent or scared kid. And they complete these tours rain or shine. I always get nervous seeing a Blue Key tour guide walk backward in the rain with an umbrella on slippery sidewalks, but they are there to do a job and help potential students see all that Villanova has to offer. There is also the exec staff, who spend even more time and energy organizing the team of tour guides and making sure this essential aspect of the admissions department runs smoothly. This efficient and hardworking team deserves to be paid for their work as well. I’m here to change minds and hearts and put some change in Blue Key members’ wallets.
There is a counterargument that making Blue Key a paying job will dilute some of the passion of the members, but I would argue that financially compensating those who give their time to this organization could just as easily allow the members of Blue Key to devote more time and passion to the job. For example, if they had a separate part-time job, a Blue Key member could focus on that job instead of the other one they might have less passion for.
Blue Key directly benefits Villanova financially and is instrumental in its success as a highly competitive and desirable university. If Blue Key did not exist, the school would likely drastically decrease the number of students applying because they do not get a good understanding of the school. Additionally, many other schools recognize that this is a highly skilled and important job, and they pay tour guides on their campuses. A friend of mine even remembers that one school she toured had professional, non-students leading their tours. It is time that the University compensates tour guides for their complete knowledge of the school and its history and future, the physical demands of the position, their interpersonal and communication skills and positive attitudes. The Villanovan spoke with some current and former members to see their opinions on the matter. They all requested to remain anonymous.
“I honestly think [members should be paid] considering the amount of effort that I had to put in just to get into Blue Key let alone the future time that I would dedicate to do tours,” the first member said. “Blue Key is highly organized and there’s a lot of things that need to be done before actually giving a tour. Like after applying, going through interviews and then going through ‘orientation,’ we also have to study a manual and do at least 2-4 practice tours before actually giving a tour. I feel like a lot of effort goes unnoticed.”
Another Blue Key member expressed a little more reservation towards the idea of paying Blue Key members but believes that the exec board should be compensated.
“I think that’s a really cool idea and definitely something worth discussing, especially because it’s a thought that’s crossed my mind a few times because I know some other schools pay tour guides,” the member said. “The role of a general tour guide (anyone not on exec) is to give a tour at least once a week or even less depending on how many people register at your allotted tour time. Because Blue Key is such a huge organization now, and some people don’t give tours very often, I think it makes some sense that they choose to present it as more of a volunteering/leadership opportunity. However, I do think that part of exec and those that work very closely with admissions by scheduling and planning events for prospective students do a lot more and it takes more time. I think those would make sense to be paid positions.”
The Villanovan also spoke with a former member of Blue Key, who also requested to remain anonymous.
“I think it’s more complicated than a simple yes or no,” the former member said. “Part of what makes Blue Key special and what some prospective students and families admire is that we aren’t paid but most of us still work hard to show our love for Villanova and help families get the information they need in making their college decision. I also think that if everyone in the organization were to be paid, you’d have more people who are applying to the club because they would like to make money rather than because they would enjoy being a tour guide/ambassador and are willing to give their time.”
“I don’t think every guide should be paid, at least not initially. I’d consider having guides be paid a set amount for our larger events ie. Accepted Students Day and maybe if you’re part of something that requires extra time. There are also positions and people in Blue Key who do more than the required and work much harder than the average guide, so I definitely think those individuals should be paid depending on what their role is and what their responsibilities are.”
“I think at the end of the day, whether or not Blue Key is paid is a conversation that needs to continuously be had between exec and Admissions if it’s not already being had. And if there are members that would benefit from being paid because they have personal financial concerns, that should be taken into consideration. And whether or not Blue Key becomes paid shouldn’t take away from what the organization is designed to be: a group of Villanova students who have a passion for sharing their experiences in the Villanova community with prospective students and families and making a difference.”