Behind the Scenes: Preview Day

Student Ambassador, Julie Robinson
Student ambassador Julie Robinson, sophomore public relations major, prepares for the next student preview day, Sept. 9, 2014. | Photo by Emily Stookey
The first Preview Day of the year is this Friday. Most Union students took part in one of these events before attending Union. But there is more to a Preview Day than meets the eye of a prospective student.

Rachael Taylor, special events and visit coordinator, said that in order for Preview Day to run smoothly, nearly every aspect of campus is involved.

Taylor is in charge of coordinating about 20 tour groups and their routes, conferring with Aramark to provide meals, consulting with various faculty and campus organizations and making sure that student ambassadors are prepared with everything they need to make the day successful.

Lots of time and care goes into every detail of the day. “We also try to personalize each prospective student’s individual packets,” Taylor said. “From their nametags, to their schedule, to everything else, we want to take the time to show each student that they are important to us.”

For former student ambassador Celia Leatherwood, senior special education major, giving the tours was always her favorite part of Preview Day. Including students and their families, these tours can have up to 30 people.

“You know they’re interested in the university, and they ask really great questions,” she said. “Just to get to see the school through those new eyes again, to get to share that with them is really cool.”

During lunch, prospective students and their parents have the opportunity to learn about student life straight from the source.

“As SAC president, I’ll be on a question and answer panel of about eight students who represent different campus organizations,” Leatherwood said.

In addition to a campus tour and a student life panel, students also have the opportunity to attend chapel, meet with their department of interest, hear from President Oliver and attend a class.

Student ambassadors not only have roles on preview days, but throughout the entire semester as well. The application for student ambassadors includes an essay portion and an interview with the admissions office team.

“We look especially for students who can relate well to prospective families and who can convey Union’s heart and mission to them,” Taylor said.

Blake Hodges, junior business major, is a student ambassador for the second year.

“We do office hours for two and half hours each week,” Hodges said. “Filing transcripts, recording ACT scores, basically keeping the enrollment counselors’ offices in order.”

Two-hour call nights take place every other week for ambassadors. “Sometimes you’ll leave several voicemails, but then you get that one person on the phone who just loves Union, and it makes it all worth it,” Hodges said.

Throughout the semester, ambassadors give smaller tours and will occasionally host prospective students overnight.

Ambassadors also help facilitate Scholars of Excellence Weekend in the spring. “We take care of all the scholars, we move them around from place to place, and hang out with them before interviews because some of them are so nervous,” Hodges said.

Hodges hopes to spend his first few years after graduation as a Union enrollment counselor while earning his MBA.

Taylor graduated from Union in 2012. When she visited the campus as a high school student, she said that “Union was the only place that felt like home.” Also a former student ambassador, she enjoys being a part of the bigger picture for the university.

“Deciding on a college is often a tough, life-changing decision,” Taylor said. “I love that in a small way, I am hopefully helping them make that college decision a little easier. It’s so fun when a student is visiting, really sees how God is working here, and truly wants to be a part of that.”

Image courtesy of Emily Stookey|Cardinal & Cream
About Danica Smithwick 41 Articles
Danica Smithwick, class of 2016 journalism alumna, is former Editor-in-Chief of the Cardinal & Cream. She is now a reporter for Community Impact Cy-Fair in Houston, TX. Follow her on Twitter: @danicasmithwick.