Most high school seniors find out if they got into a college online or in a letter.
Over the weekend, six students who were accepted to the University of Maryland in College Park for the fall of 2015, were notified in person with all the hoopla of the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol.
Admission staff members in a bus with a Maryland banner, along with the school’s terrapin mascot, drove up to the houses of six randomly selected admitted students in the nearby Maryland suburbs to deliver the good news.
See full story in The Washington Post today.
This was the first year that the Maryland admissions staff visited a handful of incoming freshmen in person to tell them about their admission, said Shannon Gundy, the director of admissions in a phone interview. In the past, the staff had gathered as an office to monitor the reaction to admissions news over social media. “It was loads of fun,” she said. “It was a great morale booster for our office.”
So they thought it would be even better to deliver the news and see the response themselves, said Gundy.
The parents were told of the visit ahead of time to make sure the students would be home and ready, but the news was kept as a surprise in all six cases, she said. As the bus made its way from one stop to the next, traffic on Twitter picked up, and hopeful applicants tweeted asking if they would be visited next. Gundy said she’s unsure how the approach will impact future applicants or the college’s yield in the fall.
“Our intention here was the human interest aspect,” said Gundy. “Having six students really excited about their admission isn’t going to influence our outcomes, though knowing that we care...it does say something about the kind of school we are and I do hope that is conveyed.”
Some colleges give personal invitations to the first admit of each freshman class or lavish attention on athletes when an offer is extend. But Maryland’s approach is unique, according to Jeff Fuller, president of the National Association of College Admission Counseling. “I think it could definitely be an idea that might catch on, especially to connect with the student and parent,” said Fuller in an email.
Gundy agrees it is an idea with potential. She has already been contacted by other colleges wanting to find out more about it. Will Maryland make this a tradition? “I’m sure we will. It’s too much fun not to,” she said.
Photo (courtesy of University of Maryland Admissions): Andrea Hutson, 17, a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, receives news of her acceptance to the University of Maryland College Park at her home in Beltsville, MD.
A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.