Story by Emily Sadecki
Much of what makes up college life cannot be seen simply from a tour. The atmosphere at a basketball game, late-night food runs and dorm life can be tipping points when deciding where to pursue a degree. As the deadline for making a college decision approaches, many choose to do an overnight visit.
One program special to Drake University is an overnight stay.
“The overnight program is one of the most successful things we do in terms of recruitment strategies,” Alyssa Burnett, campus visits facilitator, said.
The number of students who end up coming to Drake after doing an overnight with a current student is roughly 80 percent. Last year, this meant 76 of 99 committed to Drake after doing an overnight visit, according to a report from the admissions office.
“I think the reason why it is so successful because the students are able to come without parents and without any admission staff telling them all the facts,” Burnett said. “They are able to picture themselves on campus and see if it is a good fit.”
Burnett speculates part of the reason overnights are effective is because students who are taking the time to come for an overnight are already interested in Drake, and the overnight simply solidifies their decision.
There are a variety of opportunities for high school students to do overnights. They can be set up on an individual basis or in conjunction with larger scale events such as the Chicago Bus Trip or Drake’s Admitted Student Days. Individual overnights had the most success in convincing potential students to come to Drake. Burnett said overnight visits result in 93 percent enrollment.
Natalie Sabatino, a high school senior from Bartlett, Ill., came to Drake for the Chicago Bus Trip program.
“My favorite part was meeting all of the students that already go here,” Sabatino said. “I could picture myself here with all of these people.”
Sabatino had previously done a campus tour with her parents. She says that while it was informative, it was more for their sake than hers. The overnight, on the other hand, left her excited and looking forward to coming back to Drake in the fall.
Part of what makes the experience so real, Burnett said, is the fact that the students who host are volunteers and not specifically trained.
First-year Rachel Munoz hosted a prospective student.
“I volunteered because I didn’t have the greatest overnight visit,” she said, “I wanted to make sure that I could influence at least one person’s decision in a positive way because coming to Drake has easily been one of the best decisions and experiences of my life.”
Her favorite part of the experience was watching her prospective student open up as the night progressed.
“It was showing that she was enjoying herself and hopefully meant she was putting Drake as a top contender in her college decision,” Munoz said.
Burnett looks forward to seeing the excitement of the prospective students as they pick up their things the next morning. She said she loves seeing high school students make their decision and be excited about their future.