Approximately 130 prospective students — a select few of more than 5,000 applicants to Mary Baldwin University during this record-breaking admissions year — will come to campus this weekend to get acquainted during Future First-Year Weekend. The event signals the unofficial start to the college visit season, when students and their families tour campus in their quests to find the right fit. And the Mary Baldwin community hopes to seal the deal that will bring them back for good in August.
The visiting students have all been accepted to Mary Baldwin and are in the final stages of deciding where they will attend college in the fall. Most will make their decision in the next few weeks before the May 1 National Deposit Deadline, according to Andrew Modlin, executive director of enrollment management.
Expanded efforts of the Mary Baldwin Admissions staff have yielded a record-shattering 5,002 applications for 2011–12 [as of press time] with more to come as the rolling admissions process allows students to apply through the summer.
The aggressive Admissions campaign is all part of the college’s plan to see a 25 percent growth in enrollment by 2015. This year, Mary Baldwin has extended its geographic reach into new markets, increased communication with prospective students, and developed scholarships and financial aid packages that make a private college education affordable for families.
Enrolling a record-size class while maintaining academic quality is an ambitious goal, Modlin said. The college community can help Admissions make it a reality with the best and brightest student visitors this weekend.
“Involvement of faculty, staff, and students in the recruitment of prospective students is a crucial element,” Modlin said. “Prospective students need to hear from voices outside of the Admissions office. They need to be recruited, they want to know what it will be like as a student at Mary Baldwin, they want to know if they fit here, and they want to make connections.”
With a campus visit, future students also can see for themselves one of Mary Baldwin’s greatest strengths in action: personalized education with an engaged and highly skilled faculty.
“The difference between a high-quality and mediocre college education is the opportunity to work closely with strong faculty members. The best prospective students and their parents know this,” said Karl Zachary, associate professor of chemistry and chairman of the faculty admissions committee. “They will be looking for evidence that Mary Baldwin’s faculty is, in fact, strong and enthusiastic about working with undergraduates. By visiting, prospective students will have the opportunity to ask questions themselves about what Mary Baldwin’s academic programs have to offer and about the people who will be delivering that.”
Astrid Salarda, then a standout high school senior from Houston, made her commitment to attend Mary Baldwin during last year’s Future First-Year Weekend.
“When I came to visit Mary Baldwin last year, I was greeted by an amazing faculty and staff,” said Astrid Salarda, now a member of the Class of 2014. “For that reason, I immediately fell in love with Mary Baldwin. I wanted to be in an environment where I am surrounded with people would be there for me throughout my first college experience.”
On both Friday and Saturday, students and their families will have the opportunity to hear from President Pamela Fox in an opening session as well as the dean of students, several student leaders, and the college’s First Year Experience directors. Faculty will gather in Grafton Library to talk academics and representatives from Student Life and other campus organizations will meet in the First Year Center in Spencer Residence Hall.
After lunch in Hunt Dining Hall, prospective students will learn about Leadership Gateways in the Student Activities Center. The Parents Association will provide refreshments at the President’s House for students and families before they tour campus and explore special group gatherings for Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, Ida B. Wells, Global Honors Scholars, and Spanish-speaking families.
The Program for the Exceptionally Gifted Prospective Student Overnight on Sunday is completely booked with more than 35 families planning to attend. A full schedule of the weekend’s events is available on Mary Baldwin’s online events calendar .
The next formal visit day will be for Early College applicants on May 14, but in the next several weeks, more prospective students will make personal visits to campus, giving faculty, staff, and students additional opportunities to make a positive impression, Modlin said.
“A smile, a hello, assistance with directions, or an invitation to sit in on a class might seem like small gestures,” he said, “but they are important and they are noticed.”