Senior Seth Furman has been walking backward as a President’s 100 (P100) tour guide since his freshman year.
“The secret is walking on the toes of your feet,” he said. “If you walk on your heels, you’ll fall over; if you walk on your toes, you have complete control of your body. That’s a little P100 trick.”
P100, a group of students who serve as ambassadors and tour guides for the University of Miami, is about more than walking backward.
Despite its name, P100 actually has more than 100 members. This year, the organization is adapting to make the program more competitive in hopes of staying true to its name.
Assistant Director of Admissions Jeffrey Jenkins is one of the admissions officers who works closely with P100.
“Philosophically speaking, we are getting back to what it means to be an ambassador, not just a tour guide, even though that’s a big part of it,” he said.
Jenkins explained the benefits of keeping the organization smaller and more selective.
“We would like to be a strong group of representatives for the university, and I think our selectivity plays into that,” he said. “As with any student organization, we want to feel a sense of purpose, mission and ownership with what we do, and I think having a smaller group helps to contribute to that, at least for us.”
This selectivity will start to play out in the next few months, as some of the 200 applicants who applied this fall will begin the interview process.
In addition to a written application, interested students must also take part in two interviews. One is an oral presentation in front of a group, the other a two-on-one interview with an admissions officer and an advisory board member.
Senior Michelle Chang, who has been on P100 for all three years she was at UM, said that the interview process helps them pinpoint characteristics necessary to be a member, or a “P.” These qualities include being reliable and comfortable speaking in front of people, having a good work ethic and displaying oneself as approachable and friendly.
“Being a tour guide, you really have to know the information and love UM,” she said.
Recently, each of the ten advisory board members were assigned a specific role. Whereas admissions officers have played a larger role in the past, this change is meant to give students more responsibility within the organization.
Senior Stephanie Schwartz’s role is “points chair,” which means she keeps track of the points P100s earn when they complete a tour, work at open house events or assist with other activities. This point system also works to keep members accountable.
Schwartz said that being a good tour guide is about more than just memorizing facts about the university.
“The tours are a lot of personal experiences and life experience, it’s not always just numbers and facts,” she said. “Usually we try to stray from that because we want to give people a look inside the life of a student. So, when we pass the lake I’ll talk about the boat burning because it’s my favorite part of homecoming.”
Furman, another member of the advisory board, said that tour captains were assigned for the first time this year. They take attendance before the tour and make sure all the guides are present and mingling with students and parents beforehand.
He also said that each student will be required to give one “special tour,” which is usually composed of a group of students who attend the tour with a school or program, rather than with their parents.
Furman thinks the organization plays an essential role on campus.
“I always tell people that P100 is the most important student organization on campus because if it’s not good, you have no other student organization on campus because no one wants to come here,” he said.