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President Harvey Stenger speaks with prospective student Taylor Heywood of Orchard Park, right, about attending Binghamton during a luncheon at the Chenango Room on Feb. 16. With Heywood are her parents, Billy and Janet, and sister Riley, The luncheon was part of the Admitted Student Open House.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Open house helps court ‘the best and the brightest’
February 18, 2014Tweet
Bryan Rose, a senior at Penfield High School in Rochester, has been admitted to three different colleges, including Binghamton University. He doesn’t know where he’ll go yet – he’s got to see what each college has to offer first – but he does know that he’d like to explore each school sooner rather than later.
“It’s good to have an all-around idea sooner,” Rose said. “It’s better when it gets down to the line.”
Rose was one of a small pool of students to attend the Admitted Student Open House for Binghamton University Scholars and PricewaterhouseCoopers Scholars held Feb. 16.
In an effort to engage exceptional students before they enroll elsewhere, the University broke from tradition and offered an open house in February for the first time in its history. Rather than wait until April, when many top applicants have already decided where they’ll go to college, the University presented itself to this year’s incoming pool of high-achievers with plenty of time to spare. This early open house was particularly crucial for the school’s two scholars programs—the Binghamton University Scholars Program and the PricewaterhouseCoopers Scholars Program – in connecting with eager-to-succeed, top-level students.
“This is our first time doing it this early,” said William Ziegler, executive director of the Binghamton University Scholars Program. “We want to get on everyone’s radar early before they start getting multiple offers, which all of these students will get. I think it’s really good to be out in front rather than behind. I think that this gets them thinking of us first.”
Randall Edouard, assistant provost and director of admissions, said that the University needed to try something different this year to connect with early admits, who, nationwide, are deciding upon a college to attend earlier.
“I accessed how we did things and found that we were admitting these top-tier, cream-of-the-crop students in January, and we didn’t offer them anything until April,” he said. “These are the top students. These are the folks that can go anywhere. We need to have something for them. We need to show them that we really want them.”
The Binghamton University Scholars program accepts 100 high-achieving freshmen every year. These students live in and participate in the Scholars Learning Community during their freshman year. Binghamton University Scholars take exclusive courses, participate in extracurricular activities on and off campus, and get to showcase their work locally and nationally.
The PwC Scholar’s program consists of the top 10 percent of the incoming School of Management (SOM) class. The program enrolls 25-30 freshman students into the program every year. PwC Scholars participate in seminars, community service and special courses reserved only for scholars within the SOM.
The open house kicked off with opening remarks from University administrators. President Harvey Stenger, who remarked that choosing which college to attend was one of the top three biggest decisions one makes in life, encouraged students to be active participants.
“When you’re walking around today, remember, this is your day,” he said. “I want you to think really hard today when you’re walking around how you’re going to make this decision. Don’t just be passive. Don’t just listen. Ask questions.”
Edouard fired up the audience, passionately pronouncing Binghamton’s best-in-class status – he enthusiastically referenced The Princeton Review’s America’s Best 378 Colleges, which stated that “students become well-rounded individuals who are globally aware and environmentally conscious”—and reminded students why the University invited them in the first place.
“I mean this,” he said. “You are the best and brightest. You’re the one we want. We want you to enroll today.”
April Thompson, dean of students, highlighted the exclusive opportunities and access that Binghamton offers its students.
“You are offered an opportunity here like you won’t get at most places to make a difference,” said Thompson. “Students here have the kinds of opportunities that I have not seen at any other school.”
After the opening event, admitted students were given an overview of the honors program each was invited to, followed by a student-panel presentation and Q&A. Students then got a chance to meet with clubs and organizations, chat with reps from various campus offices (e.g. Residential Life, Career Development Center), talk to admissions counselors and take a student-led tour of campus.
George Zimmerman, senior assistant director of admissions, said that the open house was a great way to share information about the PricewaterhouseCoopers program with invitees.
“Being a part of one of the most selective scholars program on campus is a big deal to begin with,” Zimmerman said. “Getting them onto campus to see what Binghamton has to offer was a great opportunity.”
Allowing admitted students to see what Binghamton has to offer earlier, said Tom Gaube, director of recruitment, will likely lead to a higher yield of high-achieving students.
“We know that students are hungry to come and learn more about us,” he said. “They’re hungry to narrow down their choices now that they’ve been accepted. A student who is at these programs will be admitted to many schools. So we wanted to get them here, we wanted to let them know what’s available to them, what the outcome of a Binghamton education can be. We feel strongly that after they come here, learn about us and see our facilities that they’ll be choosing Binghamton.”
One of those “hungry” students is Crystal Lee, a senior at Spencerport High School near Rochester. Lee, who has been invited to join the Binghamton University Scholars Program and has been admitted to three other colleges, said that attending early open house events is helpful.
“It will help me make an earlier decision,” she said.
Taylor Heywood, a senior from Orchard Park High School in Orchard Park, has been admitted to five different schools, but the Feb. 16 event was her earliest open house. Looking to double major in English and accounting then proceed on to law school, she’s pleased to have been invited to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Scholars Program.
“I like that there’s an honors program,” she said. “That’s important to me.”
Offering this early, hands-on experience will help convince students like Rose and Heywood, who have already expressed interest in the school, to choose Binghamton University, Gaube said.
“The main reason a lot of students will choose Binghamton is that they can physically come here and see the beauty of our campus and the great people that we have here,” he said. “They know Binghamton’s reputation and they know the academic excellence we have, but physically getting them here so they can begin experiencing what a Binghamton student would be able to experience is critically important, so we’re starting that process early.”