open houses vs. tours

Someone just asked a terrific question: is it better to go on a tour or open house. So, I’m taking a moment to talk about the differences.

Open houses usually take place in the evening. Tours, in during the school day or later in the afternoon. But, take “usually” with a grain of salt. Again, every school structures their own events and each is unique and different. Oh, and some schools, as with Bard Queens, offers both. That’s not typical. 

Tours during the school day often allow you to see kids at work in classrooms - great to get a sense of what the student body looks like, what a classroom in action feels like. After school tours, while often run by students, don’t give you a sense of what it is to be a student in real time. Evening open houses are usually manned by administrations and students, with some teachers in attendance. 

Generally speaking, tours are more structured - someone leads you through the building. And often you need to sign up - they’re limited to a certain number of people. Open houses are more you on your own to wander. Generally speaking. A few examples of different set ups:

Beacon open houses are actually guided tours. No sign ups, but you’re assigned a tour guide once in the building and are on a set course (very much like a Disney World ride).

Eleanor Roosevelt has tours that you sign up for. But they’re in the evening and after a presentation by the principal, you wander the building yourself. 

Brooklyn Tech has both an open house (this is attended by over 3000 families - I’ve spoken at several and it’s pretty intense) as well after after school tours you sign up for.

So, the preference is yours if there’s a choice between the two. For Bard it seems more people will be around to speak with at the open house. But, those are generally more packed.