October 27, 2013
OSWEGO, N.Y. – This year’s Columbus Day open house at SUNY Oswego grossed one of the largest numbers of visitors for this type of open house ever, according to one of the speakers at the event.
One benefit that visitors receive from attending an open house is talking to current students, which is how the honors program board staffed their table for the open house.
The staffing of the tables at open houses is generally left up to the groups that are represented, and some of the groups, like the honors program, feel that adding current students to the mix is beneficial to the prospective applicants and their families as well as to the students and faculty members themselves.
Michael Riecke is the co-chair of the communications studies department open house committee, including this year’s Columbus Day open house. This is Riecke’s first year coordinating open houses for the department.
“The open house helps prospective students picture themselves on this campus and determine whether our programs and culture are the right fit,” Riecke said.
To plan for an open house, the chairs of the open house committee have a meeting with the admissions office to discuss expectations and to see that they are met. The chairs then recruit faculty members to open their classes to visitors and greet prospective students. The last component is coordinating tours for the visiting students and their families.
“This is an opportunity for high school seniors to get a sense of campus culture,” Riecke said. “They can sit in on a class, meet faculty and students.”
One faculty member who has met more prospective applicants than most of his colleagues is Dr. Robert Moore. Moore is a professor of English and the director of the honors program at SUNY Oswego.
Moore started working for the university 35 years ago, and began his work with the honors program three years later in 1981, the year the program was created. Moore has been participating in open houses for over 20 years, numbering around 100 in that time period, first as chair of the English department and then as a faculty member of the honors program.
The idea of current students staffing the honors program table has only been in use for the last three or four years, Moore said. Having students help run the program’s table is just something Moore wanted to do.
Moore believes that the students involved, the prospective applicants and their families, and even himself as a faculty member all benefit from having students help staff the table.
“I think that students coming in really would like to get a student’s perspective on their answers,” Moore said. “I think one advantage is it gives both students and parents the perspective of a student actually in the program, as opposed to just hearing the faculty perspective and the rather canned information that we give.”
Moore believes working alongside students at the table is beneficial to him as a faculty member in several ways. There is a shared enthusiasm between him and the students, Moore said. He loves what he does, he is enthusiastic about the honors program, and he enjoys working with students and feeding off their enthusiasm for college and learning.
The students who help staff the table benefit because they “get to feel that they’re part of the program and they’re contributing to the welfare of the program by helping to attract new students coming in,” Moore said. They also have to be personable and articulate in a public setting, which is good practice for the future.
Mollie Clark is a sophomore student with a double major in cinema and screen studies and creative writing. She is a member of SUNY Oswego’s honors program, and helped staff the table for the program at the 2013 Columbus Day open house.
“I think prospective freshmen really get a feel for the school by talking to Oswego students,” Clark said. “They feel more comfortable talking to their peers and ask questions about the things they really care about.”
The open house helped provide answers to a lot of the questions that the prospective applicants and their families had, Clark said. It helps give a good and lasting impression of the university, which is enhanced by the welcoming and insightful attitude that the people working the staff tables had.
“I think by staffing at open houses you’re given the opportunity to show students interested in Oswego what a great place this is to go to school,” Clark said.