A production team from the hit Amazon Prime TV show “The College Tour” wrapped up a week of filming on the campus of Western New Mexico University on Friday, Nov. 10. The show was in town to film ten WNMU students telling their unique Mustang stories.
The series introduces its audience to colleges and universities across the country. Each episode of “The College Tour” focuses on a single college or university and is hosted by Alex Boylan, who won CBS’s “The Amazing Race” at age 23 and has gone on to have a highly successful career both in front of and behind the camera.
The concept for the “The College Tour” was inspired by Boylan’s niece, who, several years ago, was deciding where to attend college but could not afford to take numerous trips around the country to find the right match. “So few students . . . have the resources to travel wherever they want and check out campuses,” said Boylan.
He noted that it is ideal if a student can physically visit a college campus, but for those that cannot, “The College Tour” serves as important middle ground. “If you can’t get to campus, you can get a really good feel” from the show, he said.
“We are so blessed to be in a country where we have some 2,400 four-year colleges and another 900 community colleges,” noted Boylan, “so the breadth of higher education across this country is super exciting. Being able to travel this country and celebrate this and tell the stories is incredible.”
Boylan said that he was surprised to learn how few secondary students go on to pursue higher education. “Education works,” he explained, noting that studies have shown how higher education improves income and reduces unemployment, “We should be celebrating that, and we should be encouraging our youth to go [to college].”
The WNMU campus visit was the apex of a months-long production process that will result in a 30-minute episode of the show to be aired in spring 2024. WNMU is the first university in New Mexico to be featured on "The College Tour."
Prior to the crew’s visit, there was a two-month pre-production process that involved both the team from “The College Tour” and various WNMU offices working together to cast the show, scout filming locations on campus, prepare students for filming and guide them through writing their own scripts for the episode. “We have them write the first draft of their script because we want to stay true to their authentic story,” said Boylan.
Following filming on campus, approximately two more months will be spent in production before the episode fully starts to take shape, according to Boylan. The distribution process adds additional time before the episode is aired. In the spring of 2024, the episode will air not only on “The College Tour” website, Amazon Prime, Tubi and similar streaming services, but it will also be distributed to numerous high schools nationwide to be shared with students looking for their best college match.
This was Boylan’s first trip to southwestern New Mexico, and he described the natural setting of WNMU as “spectacular.” “That probably is the number one thing that stands out to me” about the university, he said. He also noted that he was impressed by how well WNMU serves multiple demographics. “
“This institution [understands] that there are different demographics of what students need,” he said, noting that in addition to traditional arts and sciences courses, WNMU offers career-readiness programs through both traditional academic paths and through the Department of Community and Workforce Development.
Asked what he most enjoyed about hosting the show, Boylan responded, “The learning process [is what] I really enjoy. To me, it is not about what works or what is perfect; it is about the times that are challenging or you weren’t expecting that makes it great.”
“You never know what is going to happen in production . . .That is the exciting part,” he said.