BGSU looks to hook prospective students at presidents Day Open House

Prospective students visiting BGSU on Presidents Day in February.


BG Independent News

Monday was the day that Bowling Green State University hoped to seal the deal with high school seniors shopping for a college education.

The university’s Presidents Day Open House Monday attracted about 4,000 guests to campus. Shortly before noon, Cecilia Castellano, vice provost for strategic enrollment planning, reported that 1,400 prospective students had registered. Including family members and others accompanying the students, that’s about 3,500 visitors. The event was scheduled to continue until midafternoon and people were still registering.

Castellano said about 70 percent of students who attend end up attending BGSU. It’s the biggest day for visits at BGSU.

Castellano said the goal is to give visiting high school sense “a sense of community, to feel that they can belong here.”

A campus fair with table for academic departments, support services, and activities filled the ballroom in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

Tewana Smiley (left) and Lillie Schaub answer visitors’ questions at Falcon Outfitters booth.

BGSU is showing off all the opportunities students have to stand out, Castellano said. They were also offered chances to connect with current BGSU students and faculty “so they can find their niche.” They were given a list of dozens of classes they and their parents can attend. She was part of that effort stationed in the ballroom helping visitors find what they needed.

The Open House allows them to visit every residence hall where freshmen live “so they can picture themselves here,” she said.

While many students were here already planning to commit, some were still on the fence.

John Spragg, from Strongsville, is interested in the criminal justice program especially as it relates to forensic science. He was heading off to a reception hoping to meet faculty and learn more about interaction between forensics studies and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab on campus.

His older brother studies criminal justice at Kent State, and he’s considering joining him. Still he’s considering BGSU as a way of “striking out on my own.”

John Hahn had also whittled his choices down to two schools – BGSU and Ohio University. He’s considering journalism. Hahn received a partial scholarship from BGSU. He and his parents were at the open house asking a lot questions hoping the answers they get will help with the decision.

Cousins Sarah Young and Jakiah Moore, both of Cleveland, have settled on BGSU.

Young is interested in the performing arts – singing, acting and acting. A friend from home told her that the musical theatre program is really good. She’d like to at least minor.

Moore said she choose BGSU “because I was accepted.” She planning on enrolling in the College of Business where she can use her love of numbers to help people.

She said she was impressed by how open the campus and community were.

Brett Holden, coordinator of learning communities and director of the Chapman Learning Community, was on hand to promote that campus lifestyle where students live together based on shared interests.

Chapman was the first, now marking its 20th year. Now there are 20 learning communities. They include communities for people in the same majors, such as music, business, and forensic science or similar interests, the arts, French and Spanish culture and language, and global culture. Chapman is committed to service learning and leadership development.

These not only meet students’ interest but serve the interest of the university as well. Retention rates are markedly higher for students who live in learning communities, Holden said.

Ivy Keen, graduate assistant, was on hand to answer questions about the Falcon Internship Guarantee Program. “We’re getting a lot of questions,” she said from both parents and students. They are particularly concerned whether there are internship opportunities for particular majors.

Keen is able to assure them that there are positions in “a very broad range” of disciplines. “We work with students from all different areas.”

Another graduate student Daniel Felbah was sharing information about the Learning Commons. The service, located in the first floor of Jerome Library, provides a range of academic assistance to students who feel they need a little more help.

“Parents are intrigued by the fact that it’s free,” he said.

Students can either drop in or schedule an appointment. And it’s not just for students who are doing poorly in a class.  “It’s open to all students,” Felbah said. Maybe a student needs help to boost a B to an A. The students served actually tend to have higher GPAs.

Felbah was also encouraging students to consider becoming tutors in subjects they are strong in.

Tewana Smiley and Lillie Schaub were staffing the Falcon Outfitters booth. Parents were interested in sales on spirit wear, but Smiley and Schaub also fielded questions about books.

Outfitters is in the space formerly occupied by the bookstore. They were prepared with lists of online sources to buy textbooks at cheaper prices than the bookstore could have offered.

Because they are students they also end up answering general questions about dorm life and other aspects of campus life. Smiley was talking to one family about the rules and reality of pets in dorms.

Schaub said she remembers her own visit to campus. “It was mostly asking questions and getting comfortable with what to expect about where you will be living.”

Smiley had a very different experience. She never visited campus. She’d applied and been accepted at other schools but the staff at BGSU “were the most helpful with financial aid.”

So, she said, “I told parents you just need to drop me off at BGSU on Aug. 23.” She expects to graduate in December.