Just as important as going to college is going to the right college. That’s where The College Tour comes in.
Eagle Scout Burton Roberts is the executive producer of the series airing on Amazon Prime (along with a dozen or so other streaming platforms, including their own website) that takes people on behind-the-scenes tours of college campuses — giving students an in-depth perspective on college life from the comfort of their homes.
Roberts is already a veteran of reality TV. The former Survivor contestant teamed up with seasoned producers Lisa Hennessy (executive producer of Eco-Challenge) and Alex Boylan (The Amazing Race season 2 winner) to create the series.
“The three of us have filmed shows all over the world, but we wanted to do something focusing on the United States that would be a free resource to help the younger generation reach their potential,” Roberts says.
As an executive producer, Roberts oversees all aspects of the production, including financing, creative decisions, business relationships, distribution and marketing.
“It’s a bit more of a business-focused position, but it’s still fun,” he says.
Making the most of his own college experience
Roberts doesn’t always get to travel to the campuses himself. He leaves that exciting work to Boylan, the host of the series. However, Roberts says he did get to visit a few of the schools on the show.
“I have been to many of the schools, and it has been so inspiring to see all the hardworking young people and the amazing campuses that provide (students) such incredible resources to really thrive,” he says.
The team has also launched The College Tour class, a free tool to help students and parents identify what to look for when choosing the right school, including th
e type of school, location and field of study.
Given the chance to experience college life himself, Roberts earned dual degrees in business and philosophy from SMU in Dallas and later earned a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois.
Then came his stint on Survivor, where he made it all the way to Day 36, just three days from the final.
“I never dreamed I would be working on television,” he says. “Sometimes your dreams look different than when you set out to achieve them. In my opinion, that’s the point of higher education. We want students to always be open to learning, exploring, reaching new heights and being prepared for anything.”
Credit to Scouting
Burton attributes his success on Survivor to the life skills and lessons he learned from Scouting.
“Being on Survivor was life-changing,” he says. “It was an incredible experience that really tapped into all I learned as an Eagle Scout. That grit is what kept me going throughout the season.”
Roberts has created other TV series, including an online interactive travel show series called Around the World for Free, and Camp Reality, a reality show that features Burton and other reality TV alums competing in more challenges.
Roberts also had the chance to stand on the main stage at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree.
“My first Jamboree was in the 1980s, and back then, I was working hard to get patches and earn my Eagle Scout rank,” he says. “But this time, I rode up onto the main stage inside an Army Stryker with over 80,000 Scouts looking on — all reminding me of how meaningful Scouts have been throughout my whole life. It was one of my greatest honors.”
Learning to work hard
Roberts says Scouting taught him a lot, including tenacity and the ability to think critically and have patience.
“It’s more important to do something right than to do something fast just to get it done,” he says. “Scouts gave me this tremendous confidence in myself that enabled me to believe I could do whatever I put my mind to.”
At age 14, Roberts earned the rank of Eagle after completing his Eagle Scout service project, which was building bluebird houses for a local park in St. Louis, Missouri, to help bring the bluebird population back to its home state.
“Earning my Eagle was one of the best feelings of my life,” he says. “I had worked hard for so many years, and it showed me that by setting goals and working hard, things in life pay off.”
Roberts says the two biggest things he continues to carry with him from his Scouting days are the philosophies of always being prepared and never giving up.
“Never giving up means you are committed to finding new ways to problem-solve,” he says. “It’s important to always want to advance yourself. I may not be receiving physical badges anymore, but every time I achieve something new and exciting, I have that same feeling of pride.”