There are many factors to consider in choosing a university, but according to Mariah Maki, assistant director of Admissions at WSU, students often rely on campus visits when making their final choice.
That corroborates research done by Stamats marketing and communications programs, which serve more than 100 colleges and universities nationwide. Stamats has found that, on a scale of 1 to 5, teens rank visits over 4.5 in helpfulness in deciding which school to attend. Most other factors hovered around a 4 on the helpfulness scale.
Maki encourages admissions counselors to stress to prospective students the importance of a campus visit.
“When prospective students come for a daily visit they can see the hands-on experiences that students have here. If we want a more diverse, high-quality class, then it is important to show students how everything ties in together, and visit programs are a way to show them that,” Maki said.
It’s a message that resonates with the Office of New Student Programs. Tami Moore, NSP campus visitation coordinator, works to ensure that visit programs are designed to meet the needs of prospective students and their parents.
Starting this February, the spring preview will become more specialized, focusing on high-ability students who have already been admitted to the university. The goal of the event, titled “Destination! A Preview for Admitted Students,” will be to help these students decide whether or not Washington State University is the right choice for them. This is different from past spring previews, which were open to all students. Non-admitted students are encouraged to arrange individual visits.
“In past spring events we’ve had students who were ready to decide and those still considering options, and it was difficult to serve both those groups at one event,” said Terese King, director of NSP. So now, this spring preview is designated for confirming. A different preview, titled “WSU Preview for Juniors,” will welcome high school juniors who are still trying to decide on a school, said Vicki McCracken, interim assistant vice president for Enrollment Services.
“Students attending the spring events come with an offer of admission in hand and leave with detailed information about scholarship/financial aid packages and knowing what other choices they will make regarding, for example, the Honors College and housing,” King said.
As with all visit events, WSU faculty and staff will play an instrumental role in the new program’s success. For most prospective students, time with current students and faculty is most important, Moore said.
“We are fortunate that when we ask faculty and staff to help with our programs, they are willing to do so. Students come to see the core of the university and not us putting on the program.”
She said she has found that many students appreciate that professors take time to talk with them. “It’s a small effort for the professor, but it makes a huge difference to the student. We really appreciate their support.”
Three dates for previews
This year’s spring previews will take place on three separate occasions, with specific focuses of interest.
The first event, Feb. 14, is intended for students who are interested in agriculture and animal sciences, engineering and architecture, math and sciences, and pre-professional programs such as health sciences, nursing, pharmacy and veterinary medicine.
The second event, Feb. 28, is for students interested in business and hotel business management, communication, design (apparel design, interior design, landscape architecture), education, liberal arts and visual and performing arts.
The third event, March 21-22, is a two-day session that combines the academic focus of the February events and highlights campus and community resources available to nonresidents.