I’ve just returned from the best college fair (granted I’ve only done about 30 for the College) I’ve ever participated in and I have three of our summer interns to thank for the productive and fun Wednesday night. Working as a team, the four of us covered many important aspects of a student’s academic and social life on campus, as well as the admission process. Like four Olympic swimmers competing in a medley relay, we naturally gravitated to our areas of expertise and began to answer questions specific to those academic or social fields. Instead of the typical scenario of a college fair, with one Dean Staff member standing behind a table and answering questions from at least four directions on a myriad of different topics, we were able to dive into the conversations when a question arose in each of our areas of specialty. Instead of choosing our talent in the backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke, and freestyle, we chose departments we ourselves are a part of (or was a part of in my case) including Humanities, Social Sciences, Laboratory Sciences, and our Business School. Lucky for us, those are the four main areas of interest in which prospective students are most likely to show interest.
Tildi, the Neuroscience major and Jersey girl, was able to provide chat with pre-Med students from the perspective of a student who has been there and is still currently experiencing the world of test tubes and Punnet squares. Christina, our English major from Richmond, told stories of her favorite English courses and lessons learned from her path towards achieving a MA in Communication. Austin, our Government major and Business Management minor from South Dakota, explained his experiences thus far in two W&M departments to the students interested in Political Science or entering the corporate world.
Although I like to believe that I provide sufficient examples from my own student career at W&M, stories from current students I happen to know, or simply factual information we acquire as professionals of the College, I know none of this is as good as hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth. Instead of listening to me explain the ins and outs of going abroad through our W&M Reves Center for International Studies, Austin and Tildi told stories of their recent experiences on W&M summer programs in India and Italy. When a young lady asked me about academic support on campus, I was so happy to see her face calm and her mind come to ease as Christina took over the answer and provided insight from her own interactions with professors and staff on campus. Simply put, the interns were able to tell it how it is and provide examples of W&M’s unique situation as a small liberal arts university to these prospective students.
I knew that this fair would likely be more fun and interesting simply because I had more people to talk with during the lulls between waves of people or on the drive to and from W&M. I failed to stop and think before the fair began of how the interns’ presence would improve the quality of the evening and the authenticity of the information for the high school students. With the extra help, we were all able to have one-on-one conversations spanning 10 minute intervals and provide real advice for these (hopefully) future W&M students. The natural flow of conversation coupled with the interns’ authentic answers painted the most realistic picture of W&M I can imagine without actually living the experience for oneself. I hope these interns have an easy enough senior schedule to come on the road with me in September!
– Amanda Norris