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Visits to campus rise dramatically

By : Rachel Coker

Karl Hillenbrand ’08 leads a campus tour for high school students and their parents.
About 20,800 prospective freshmen and transfer students visited campus in 2004-05.

That’s an 18 percent increase from the year before and nearly double the 11,800 visitors who came in 2000-01. And it means that the physical appearance of the campus may be more important than ever before.

Karl Hillenbrand ’08, a biology and psychology major, said his campus visit played a pivotal role in his choice of schools.

“Honestly, as soon as I left the tour, I knew this was it,” he said. “This was the school.”

Hillenbrand, who’s from Virginia, turned down Virginia Tech and the Rochester Institute of Technology, in part because he liked the idea of a campus with a blend of science and liberal arts offerings. Today, he’s a tour guide with Under-graduate Admissions.

Last Friday, Hillenbrand led a group of seven parents and students on a tour. As they walked, he filled them in on campus and academic life and answered questions about topics ranging from the meal plan to computer access. He was even brave enough to take the group to his room in Dickinson Community, where his room-mate gamely greeted them from bed.

“It’s by no means Greek or geek,” Hillenbrand said as he discussed Bingham-ton’s social scene. “I’m not in a fraternity and I still have friends.”

Diane Licari of Port Jefferson and her son Kevin were on the tour, part of a weekend trip that also included a visit to the State University of New York College at Geneseo. They’ve already toured Hofstra University and Syracuse University.

Licari, a 1977 Harpur College graduate, said the admissions process and the campus have changed dramatically. She didn’t come to Binghamton until freshman orientation, she said.

“I’ve never been back. Life’s been busy,” she said. “I’m really impressed with how beautiful the campus looks.”

Kevin Licari, 17, a high school senior with an interest in business or marketing, agreed. “It’s more scenic than your typical state university,” he said.

Although he said academics are more important to him than the appearance of the campus, the teen said it’s important to him to see what the various schools look like.

Marc Zerfas of Lagrangeville took the same tour. He’s a high school junior, but figures it’s not too soon to start touring colleges. He has already been to Vassar College and expects he’ll also visit the University at Albany.

Kevin and Marc are in good company: One recent survey showed 57 percent of Binghamton students felt the campus visit was among the most important factors in their college search.

Jeffery Gates, associate director of Under-Enrollment Management, said more than 70 highly trained student tour guides handle this vital introduction to campus. As many as 200 students apply for the job each semester.

“We also have over 100 student ambassadors who assist us in welcoming our visitors to campus for the special programs like Open House and Binghamton Multi-cultural Weekend,” Gates said. “These students are volunteers who love Binghamton University and are proud to share their experiences with others.”

Tours are just one aspect of the typical campus visit, though. Staff members also conduct an information session with parents and students. That part of the visit addresses the particulars of the admissions process, academic offerings at Binghamton and statistics about the University.

Applicants and their parents leave with a central message about Binghamton: This is the premier public university in the Northeast.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08