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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Honors Overnights disappear amidst minors policy woes

Wouldn’t you have liked to stay in a dorm for a night and hang out with college students you were in high school? The UA Honors College used to grant these overnight visits to a few select students each month.

However, due to a new policy change this year, clubs on campus are no longer able to host overnight visits for students, at least not without complete background checks and fingerprints. This has especially affected the Honors College Ambassadors, an Honors College club that has been performing overnight visits as a recruitment tool for years.

Overnight visits were a great incentive in the recruiting process and definitely a positive experience for prospective students and current hosts alike. Not many other universities offer overnight visits to students, so they could really set the UA Honors College apart in terms of recruitment efforts.

Although they may not admit it, many high school seniors are terrified to leave home and live on their own in a residence hall, but getting to experience how other students do it can ease their fears and also cement an interest in attending our university.

Staying with a host for a night also forms relationships between potential matriculating freshmen and their hosts—someone who could be their friend once they arrive at college.

I spoke to many of the high school students I had hosted after their visit and answered any questions they had about the UA. They felt more comfortable approaching a student than a recruitment advisor for some of their queries, especially since the advisors are quite busy with hundreds of potential students to address.

On the school’s end, there were many factors that went into making this decision. In an email correspondence with Dr. Patricia MacCorquodale, dean of the Honors College, she explained some of the reasons overnight visits were discontinued.

“First, evaluations and yield rates are comparable for students who visit for a day and those who stay overnight. Second, most of our peer institutions do not offer overnight visits. Third, overnight visits involve intensive staff time in matching students and hosts,” MacCorquodale said.

Understandably, hosting an overnight visit takes a great deal of staff involvement and liability, but don’t the benefits outweigh the costs? A big institution does not make these decisions on a case-by-case basis and if 15 or 20 students were really influenced by their overnight visits, the effect of their evaluations would be minimized by the rest of the numbers.

Coming into the future, “The UA Honors College is collaborating with the Office of Admissions to design and implement a variety of one-day programs for prospective students and parents,” MacCorquodale wrote. “I am certain that those programs will provide valuable experiences and that the UA will remain a top destination for highly motivated students.”

I really hope the programs that follow the policy change will live up to expectations. While the school has decided that hosting 30 students overnight each month was not worth the staffing and effort that went into it, perhaps the Honors College can bring it back one day.

These traditions are what make recruitment at the UA Honors College unique. Every school needs a good hook, and that was ours. For now, though, we’ll just have to get really creative in how we showcase our school.

Follow Apoorva Bhaskara on Twitter.

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