The Office of Admission expects nearly 1,000 people to descend on the Wheaton College campus this week as it prepares for a massive spring open house for accepted students.
Thef first annual “Welcome to Wheaton Day” will allow accepted students to interact with Wheaton community members and learn more about student-run clubs, academic departments and campus programs, according to Vice President of Enrollment and Dean of Admission Grant Gosselin. But the large number of prospective students and families will also put a strain on campus facilities such as parking and dining.
In the past, such open house events were largely run by the Admissions Office and included some faculty and smaller departments. These were half-day events that were spread out over a 3-week period.
“For a place like Wheaton where community is so much a part of the experience … we were missing a prime opportunity to help students understand the real Wheaton,” said Gosselin.
“This (day) should not be viewed simply as an ‘admission initiative,’” said Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Kate Kenny. “President Hanno has declared this to be one of the most important days of the year for the College in showing prospective students and families what a remarkable community this is. [There will be] a much greater sense of energy and excitement than [there would be] in multiple smaller programs.”
The event begins with an overnight program on Thursday evening for which 120 prospective students have already registered but 40 hosts are still needed, according to Gosselin. On Friday morning, registration is from 8 to 9 a.m. and is followed by an opening celebration in the chapel. Students and families then have the opportunity to attend four consecutive hour-long sessions.
The first session will give a broad overview of the most represented academic departments in the applicant pool that include psychology, business, international relations, economics, arts and education, says Gosselin. The second and third sessions are run by faculty and will go into more depth on each of the subjects. These may include activities such as mock classes or student panels.
To get cooperation for such a big initiative, Gosselin and his office had to start early.
“I announced this date back in September in first faculty meeting,” he said. “We started working very early in semester with department chair heads to help them make it their own but also make sure that its going to resonate well with what the students are looking for.”
The fourth session will be on life outside the classroom and include discussions of student affairs, global study abroad experiences and scholarship opportunities. A final closing session until 4:00 p.m. is in an open house format with food, music, inflatables, an ‘Acapella Alley’ and one-on-one conversations with faculty.
Due to the large space needed for guest parking, an email sent on April 3rd stated that parking restrictions would go into effect for 24 hours beginning on Thursday, April 9 at 6 p.m. Students were asked to park only in Lots 3 (accessed from Pine Street) and 4 (located off Filmore Drive in Meadows). Staff and faculty members were also urged to park elsewhere.
“Parking notices are always a touchy area but I think for the most part people realize the importance of the day,” said Gosselin. “The college has invested a lot of resources to help our prospective students see the vibrancy of the campus.”
Because of the sheer number of students and families who will be on campus this week, Emerson Dining Hall will be shut down from 1 p.m. on Thursday until the Friday morning. The food truck, the Loft and the Balfour-Hood Cafe will be open but current students will have to relocate to Haas for dining hall-style dinner options.
Kenny said activities have been organized for current students during this time, such as a Balfour Block Party from 1–5 p.m. that will have outdoor games, the WCCS radio station, the Wheaton food truck and the Loft providing food.
“Lyons on the Beach: Haas Beach Party” is a themed dinner Thursday evening with music, performances and activity stations, which will take place from 5 to 9 p.m., according to Kenny.
Gosselin said the consolidation of spring visiting days into one has seemingly not limit the number of people the office draws to campus, but there will be other opportunities for and preview days where high school juniors, seniors and accepted students could visit Wheaton.
There are two big opportunities for current student involvement in the day’s events, says Gosselin. The first is being a part of the ‘Welcome Crew’ who meet in the New Yellow Parlor and from 8-9 a.m., who will form a procession and greet accepted students.
The Club and Organizations Fair at 2:30 p.m. is also an opportunity for current students to have fun and food while showcasing clubs and organizations to prospective students. Gosselin stated that it was important to start these conversations now and continue over the summer and into September.
“I think the Welcome to Wheaton Day is going to be an interesting experience, seeing as in the past we have usually split up this event amongst several weeks,” said Muneeba Syed ’17. “I think it has the potential to be something great but I also think there may be many students who aren’t particularly interested in contributing. This event means a big shift in our campus for a few days whether it’s eating at Haas, moving our cars or just the sheer multitude of people that will be here.”