Dominican's homepage features an online application and visitation for potential students called "Discover Dominican." I had recently heard of a "Discover Dominican" event that is to take place on November 8, so I decided to reflect a little more on the new process of admissions and on how I came to visit Dominican the first time.
This program is apparently catered towards groups of 10 or less, with visiting students being able to access all sorts of online material for the university, including an application for the event and for admission. This approach to courting prospective students must be a new method they instituted recently. Four years ago, the only way the Admissions department was able to persuade me to visit the university was by repeatedly calling my home and then later switching to letters promising fairly large sums of financial aid. As an average high school slacker, I was flattered that a university wanted anything to do with me and seemed genuinely interested in having me visit the campus personally to soak up the atmosphere and get a feel for Dominican. This was part of the reason why I took the plunge and went with Dominican.
I remember when I first visited Dominican, it was only my parents and myself visiting that day. We were shuffled around campus, I sat in with a class while my parents talked figures with the Admissions people, and they took some notes on my interests so they could figure out how to get me to attend Dominican. And they seemed very interested in figuring out an arrangement that would benefit me. They were looking out for my future before I even made any decisions or told them I was even impressed with things. It was this hands-on and extremely personal process that made me feel like I was wanted somewhere; like these people who were trying to get to know me were interested in things other than getting my tuition money.
While it seems that the Admissions process at Dominican is still fairly personalized, I think other than going to big group orientations and tours, prospective students should be curious to visit on their own or with parents, not as just another name in a special group designed to entice students to the institution. It just seems to me like Dominican should focus more on the individuals in this process. I'm sure these groups probably help a lot of prospective students and make them feel like they're a part of something great and present opportunities to meet people. But I'm willing to bet that if a prospective student were to go through the personalized meetings and visitations, they'd feel more comfortable with the whole situation. Making the decision on a college is a HUGE step and a major life decision that effectively influences everything else in one's life. I'm also willing to bet that these anxious high school juniors and seniors would feel a lot more comfortable with a personalized admission process: no group visitations, seminars, meet and greets, etc. I know that feeling like I was more of an individual than just a name was the major thing that brought me to Dominican. Getting to have one-on-one meetings with Admissions staff and faculty members made me truly feel like an adult out in the world at last, able to make my own decisions, and individual ones at that; no group influence or tacky admission programs to make me feel like someone was holding my hand through everything.
While I'm sure that these personalized experiences are a big part of the admission process, I think that Dominican should seek out the students, instead of simply having them fill out applications and read information on admission web pages. The personal experience is what makes going to Dominican such a positive experience, and I believe that by starting off students on such a path from the very beginning, prospective students can get a great taste of the full experience that awaits them once they come to Dominican.