Many people have seen the well-known “Invisible Gorilla” experiment on YouTube. Viewers are instructed to watch a short video clip with two groups of people – some wearing black shirts and others wearing white shirts. Both groups of people move around in a seemingly random, jumbled fashion and the challenge for the viewer is to count how many times the participants wearing white pass the basketball.
The answer is fifteen. But that’s not the point.
The point is that in the middle of the clip, a person wearing a gorilla suit enters the frame and most viewers are paying such close attention to counting the passes that they simply don’t even see the gorilla. It’s a wonderful study in “looking without seeing” or how our focused attention can cause us to miss obvious realities that are staring us in the face (and pounding their chest).
While traveling this fall to meet with students, I’ve heard the following statement several times:
“I love that college – the tour guide was awesome!”
When I hear that, I think to myself – they missed the gorilla.
Taking an official campus tour is a valuable part of the campus visit. But, when walking the campus, you should not only pay attention to the tour guide, but also to all the information you can gleam from your observations of the campus, the environment, the students, faculty and staff that you may notice during your tour.
During your college search, tour guides (and even admissions counselors like me) can help relay important information about a college but we are merely basketball-passing conduits. It’s only when you slow down on your visit and take the time to notice all that’s around you that you’ll see the gorilla and gain true insight into how that college might fit for you.
Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions