The Drake Relays brings thousands of fans and athletes to campus. While many are here to watch the track and field events take place on the Blue Oval, others are here as prospective students, getting a taste of what Drake University is really like.
Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions Deneen Dygert credits the Drake Relays for bringing extra attention to campus. “The Drake Relays is a very special opportunity for the university,” Dygert said. “It allows the university to be seen by hundreds of Iowans in a new and exciting way.”
“The Drake Relays is a very special opportunity for the university,” Dygert said. “It allows the university to be seen by hundreds of Iowans in a new and exciting way.”
Other members of the admissions team believe Drake Relays increases the amount of prospective student tours.
Ben Mardis, a sophomore student ambassador, stated how he believes there’s an increase of tours during the week of Relays.
“Shonna Floyd, our Undergraduate Campus visit coordinator, told me is that there’s an increase of prospective students and tours,” Mardis said. “Many of the high school athletes who qualify for the Relays also schedule a tour with their family while they’re here.”
Floyd confirmed this remark saying over the past years there’s been an increase of tours, especially on the Friday of Relays. According to the Admissions Office, 2016 there were 20 visitors during Relays week, 2015 had 14 visitors, and 2014 had 29 visitors.
“To put this in perspective, the rest of the week usually runs between 1 and 12 visitors,” Floyd said.
Zach Blevins, an admissions fellow and student ambassador, said that many college and universities have May 1 as their deadline for admission acceptances. This leaves little time after Relays for high school seniors to tour different schools.
“Many schools have irregular schedules in April due to standardized tests,” Blevins explained. “For current sophomores and juniors in high school, this gives them an opportunity to come and check out Drake.”
Relays is an opportunity to see campus when activity is at its peak.
The atmosphere of Drake Relays in and of itself attracts prospective students. Sophomore accounting major Meghan Mulligan toured Drake during the week of Relays. She said that the atmosphere in and of itself was appealing.
“School spirit is really important to me,” Mulligan said. “I wanted to visit Drake at a time when the school spirit was at its highest.”
Mulligan explained how touring near the end of April helped solidify her decision and she recommends that other prospective students visit during Relays.
“Relays is the best time of the year at Drake,” Mulligan said. “If students want to see the campus alive, then they should visit at the end of April.”
Although many people who are interested in the Drake Relays and the university aren’t able to be on campus during the week, the event and university still get exposure through the internet.
According to Google Trends, April was the second highest month during the past year for searches of “Drake University.” The highest month of searches was October when Drake the rapper had a concert in Des Moines and made a late-night visit to campus, which spawned global attention.
However, April was the highest month for searches of “Drake Relays.”
Mardis explained the Admissions Office will still continue with tours during the week of Relays, but are handled a little bit differently than normal because of how many more people are on campus.
For Mulligan at least, the adjustments seem to have paid off.
“I fell in love with Drake during the week of Relays,” Mulligan said. “Relays is a tradition that no other school has.”
Photo caption: Google Trends shows how the search “Drake Relays” peaks during April as well as the search “Drake University.”