On Saturday, April 1, the Newman University campus was filled with high school juniors and their families who were interested in exploring the opportunities it has to offer during Junior Open House.
The event is an annual occurrence, with this year's attendance numbers being much higher than previous years. Director of Undergraduate Admissions Kristen English said the registrations poured in at more than 70, which is nearly double compared to what they've see in the past.
The day started with a welcome session, which included a special thanks from English, along with an interactive speech about the transition to higher education from Assistant Dean and Professor of Business Teresa Wilkerson. Dean of Students Levi Esses made an appearance to add his personal welcome to the students and their families.
Jacob Montgomery, a junior at Arkansas City High School, attended the event because he is interested in a biology degree. He decided to visit Newman after hearing about the science program from other students.
"We went to the March for Life about a year ago where we met a couple of Newman kids and talked to them," Montgomery said. "After looking into it some more, I found that they (Newman) had a forensic science degree and a good biology program, so I was really interested."
Montgomery said the Junior Open House is the first college visit he's been on and was also excited about the Academic Programs Fair. "I saw there was a setup where they had all the different programs, and tables set up for each, and I'm interested in seeing what else they have."
Taylor Stevens is a junior at Clearwater High School and wanted to attend Junior Open House to explore the science and pre-med program at Newman.
"Newman came to our school and after listening to them talk, I became really interested," said Stevens. "It sounds like they have a really good program for pre-med, and a high success rate for graduates."
Stevens plans on attending other college visits, but she said she'd heard a lot of great things about Newman and was excited to find out more.
Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, students were given the opportunity to ask questions of current Newman students and faculty and explore the programs that the college has to offer.
Esses and three current Newman students helped ease the minds of those in attendance during a Student Q&A Panel. After the panel session, all were invited to Eck Hall Atrium where each of the academic programs had tables with faculty waiting to talk with students.
Manning the Criminal Justice table at the Academic Affairs Program was Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Kristi Edwards. "It's important to see what Newman has to offer," she said. "For the students to see what makes Newman different from all the other colleges that are trying to get them interested right now. This allows them to start making the best decision for them early."
Campus tours led by student ambassadors were available from 11 am - 2 pm for those who wanted to explore the campus, while hearing more inside details about the life of Newman students and their personal experiences. Stops on the tour included the major academic buildings, as well as Carrocci Hall, which is where incoming freshmen will stay when they choose to live on campus.
Prospective Jets and their guests were also given the opportunity to enjoy the fine dining that Newman students are treated to on a daily basis in Mabee Dining Hall. The food is prepared and served by the university's partner Great Western Dining.
Director of Food Service Chris Heck said he and his staff, including Head Chef Bob Matej, are proud of what they provide to students. "We try to really understand what students would like to eat ... we have a system where they can write their comments on cards," said Heck.
Heck said he knows the dining hall is important to students, so rather than serving a catered meal with rolled silverware, he prefers the students to experience what their daily dining at Newman would be like. "It's important at these events to let our visitors see that this is what they'll get to eat every day," he said. "I don't know of a lot of colleges or universities that put out the quality of food we do."
Toward the end of the day, a special session was held to focus on scholarships and financial aid information. "For those who haven't been through this process yet," said English, "scholarships and financial aid are usually the things that they’re the most overwhelmed by and have the most questions about."
The session offered insight into all of the scholarships Newman has to offer along with detailed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) information; when and why one should file, and how to find out if one is qualified.
The prospective students also got a taste of campus life with access to the Newman University Bookstore and Scooters Coffee House.