This past weekend, Drake University hosted over 50 students for the annual Chicago bus trip, which brings admitted prospective seniors to experience a day as a Drake student.
“I think it’s awesome that Chicago area kids are able to meet one another and take a trip to visit the school together,” first-year Leah Walters said. “Getting to spend the night with real college students is an entirely different experience than visiting campus for the day with parents.”
Walters not only hosted a prospective student this year, but was also a participant on the trip last year.
“One of the most important things I took away from the bus trip was the emphasis on academics here, which was really important to me,” Walters said. “I got to meet with journalism faculty one-on-one because I was the only prospective journalism major on the entire trip. That opportunity made me realize that Drake journalism programs are really unique, and they’re doing amazing, cutting-edge things. I knew I wanted to a part of it. The students were also easy to get along with. I got a great Midwestern vibe from everybody that made me feel right at home.”
Kelly Meyers, a high school senior on the Chicago bus trip this year, said that Drake felt like home. Meyers committed to being a freshman Bulldog for the fall of 2012 back in December.
“I committed to Drake because it had that small school feeling that I wanted,” Meyers said. “The bus trip has been a great follow-up because it confirms that this is the place I want to be.”
The program for the bus trip has changed even in the past year in order to better accommodate and show off Drake in the best light.
“We are still trying to perfect our schedule and the process of how we choose hosts,” said admission counselor Tisleen Singh. “Improvements can always be made. However, sometimes certain things will have to stay the same for logistical reasons.
“The comedian is new this year and went really well. We also took the students to Americana for dinner this year in downtown Des Moines instead of in Jordan Creek. We also changed our morning program from a speech to a student panel. We’ve added micro tours of Greek street, athletics and West Village. We are improving every year and are open to suggestions.”
Chicago is the only city that has its own bus trip that has come annually with prospective students.
“Any territory can have a bus trip, and there are talks that we might start them for other cities,” Singh said. “The Chicago bus trip has been happening at least since the ‘80s. I met an alumnus from ‘86 that said she went on it, so I’m taking her word. I believe it started with Chicago because we get so many students from there, and it’s a bit further away than the other cities that are represented at Drake.”
The main focus of the bus trip is to highlight not only the campus but also the people at Drake.
“The best part about the Chicago bus trip was getting to interact with Drake students,” Walters said. “The only other time I’d visited campus was over winter break, so there weren’t any students here. The vibe is definitely completely different when there are kids around campus and in classes, so it was fun to see Drake in action. It was also cool to meet other future Bulldogs.”
Singh agrees that it’s the students and faculty members that make Drake what it is.
“I hope they see the same message from students that aren’t scripted that they see in our office,” she said. “I hope they realize how amazing our students and community are, and it’s the people the make Drake so amazing.”