By Betsy Reich and Sarah Pride. Pictures by Betsy Reich.
Patrick Henry College
Freshman Belle Schuler and a visiting admitted student
“We want visitors to see our mission played out,” commented Justin Jenkins, PHC alumnus and Admissions Counselor. “We’re inviting families to come for a day and be a part of our life here.”
The College’s robust campus visits program has included six Prospective Student Days over the course of two semesters, which have welcomed over 120 students to campus. Last weekend’s Admitted Student Day saw 34 students and their families (totaling 105 attendees) touring the campus, attending classes, eating in the dining commons and generally getting to know the culture and community of PHC.
Other activities included a breakfast keynote address from PHC President Dr. Graham Walker, morning worship and chapel, and words of encouragement from College administrators and students in panel sessions. Many of the visiting students also met personally with Dr. Walker. At chapel and during the evening banquet, two-time national ACMA moot court champion and PHC alumna Rachel Heflin (2010) spoke beautifully about the blessing of investing love into others’ lives. Heflin now attends George Washington University Law School.
“We want to make people’s experience here at PHC worth the price of a plane ticket—a full-body experience,” smiles Jenkins. “I thought it was a tremendous success.”
The ice cream socials hosted on a Thursday evening before one of the scheduled visit days highlight what many see as the heart of the College – quality Christian fellowship. A handful of students organize the events in order to bless the visitors, and throughout the evening current students stream in to spend time with prospective students. Organizers report that they often pass out 100 root-beer floats by the end of the night, which translates into an opportunity for every visitor to interact with a significant slice of the student body.
“Coming to PHC sells people on PHC,” Jenkins notes. “Once you get on campus, go to chapel, and have a professor introduce himself to you in class, you capture the spirit of this place.”
One attendee this last Friday reported that, after reading the website, she liked everything about PHC but honestly thought that it was “too good to be true.” After visiting, however, she said she was blown away to see that PHC was serious about its mission, and that the College’s vision was embodied not just by the administration and admissions counselors but, more importantly, by the students.
Belle Schuler, a current student who visited PHC in the ‘10 fall semester remarked that “it was the people” who stood out to her on campus, noting that it was clear “how evident Christ was in their lives.” By the end of her visit, Belle decided there was no reason to wait longer to go to college, so at the age of 17, she graduated early, packed her bags, and started classes in the spring of 2011.
Applications for admissions to PHC have increased over this past year, according to the Office of Enrollment, due in no small part to these campus visit events. Yet because the Prospective Student Days are attended mostly by juniors, Jenkins believes the longer-term impact will be seen in applications for 2012.
Of the Admitted Student Day, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Bill Kellaris, said, “We had 34 admitted students and their families here for the event. Of those, 23 had already confirmed (deposited) for fall semester prior to the day. Of the 11 who had not, 3 have confirmed since the day. None have cancelled!”
Altogether, the Office of Enrollment feels optimistic about its trajectory to hit the goal it set for itself at the start of the year
“We are on track to welcome in August, as the Class of 2015, the largest class in PHC history,” added Mr. Kellaris, noting that Enrollment plans to continue its schedule of visit days next year.
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