Using On-Campus Experiences to Attract Bright Students

Attracting highly involved, highly intelligent freshmen is a primary goal of all Honors Colleges. Ball State’s Honors College, like that of any other school, is always trying to find new and innovative ways to compete in the marketplace of learning minds. On the other side, high school seniors ready to move forward are eager to know what their life as a university student will look and feel like. The rationale of our program is that, by providing prospective students with this knowledge, we are securing a special place for our university and Honors College in their considerations as they weigh their options for higher education. We did this by giving accepted applicants an opportunity to spend time on campus in real classes while being accompanied by a student of their or a similar major. In essence, this program provides a “day in the life” of an Honors student.
Building a something like this from the ground up is a formidable task. Questions about which accepted students should be invited to visit, who should be given the opportunity to accompany those who come, when these visits should take place, and what classes will be attended must all be answered. The nature of the program necessitates administrative processes: inviting unaccompanied minors on campus raises safety concerns that must be addressed by those coordinating the program. Despite the complex nature of this task, both the shadow program itself and the Honors College as a whole benefit from giving students the responsibility of carrying it out. Upon conclusion of the program’s pilot, the questions come down to, “is this program effective?” and “how do we determine that?” Additionally, the monetary costs of a shadow program must be weighed against the increased enrollment rates among those promising students who are invited to visit.