You’ve seen them wandering around campus with your friends once or twice a semester. They’re usually a little dazed and confused, but pretty much always full of doe-eyed excitement. They’re the newest group of accepted and prospective Wheaton students.
“Overnights are a great way for prospective students to get a feel for what it is like to be a student at Wheaton,” says Kelsey Cromie, who has been working as an Assistant Director of Admission since last July. “They’re staying in the dorms, going to events, walking around campus and talking to current students. Students were also able to attend classes while on campus.”
Despite the fact that Admission Overnights usually only take place once or twice a semester for less than 24 hours, a lot of work goes into the preparation for, and behind the scenes of, these select weekends.
In conjunction with Cromie, this year’s overnight events have been organized by Assistant Director Kassandra Harrison, Associate Director Michael Yager and Director of Admission Operations Judy Purdy.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into each overnight, but it’s a rewarding part of my job,” Cromie said.
Overnight planning starts with a dedicated group of student volunteers known as ambassadors, whose coordinators this year are Rike Sterrett ’15 and Nykia Leach ’17.
“They’re who support the admission office in a number of ways. They help greet visitors during programs, help families find parking and buildings on campus, host class visits and host for our overnights,’ Cromie explained.
Ambassadors are usually contacted by email about a month before the event to begin host sign ups. However, the overnight two Sundays ago reached record numbers and required the Office of Admission to recruit more than their usual number of volunteers. Sterrett and Leach reached out to clubs, classes, RAs, preceptors, athletic teams and even President Hanno to help make the overnight event successful. There were so many prospective students that night, almost 10% of the student body was hosting.
But with all those students, it is important to make sure there are enough events happening on campus. In addition to the usual Loft coupons and Lyon’s Den tab, Cromie, Harrison, Yager and Purdy work tirelessly looking for fun events the prospective students can attend for which they can also plan complementary programming.
“We love to collaborate with student groups and organizations when possible,” Cromie said. “For [the last] overnight, we had tickets to the Dance Festival, live music in the Lyon’s Den, we co-sponsored the Oscars Viewing Party with BACCHUS and Mad House, we had an open gym and Professor Searles also taught a Late Night Zumba session to students.”
With so many hidden elements of a Accepted Students Overnight, it’s no wonder so many faculty, staff, and students must work together to make sure everything runs smoothly for a successful weekend.