EVANSTON, Ill. --- Selecting the right college has always been an important choice weighing on the minds of high school seniors.
Location, environment, availability of specific programs, variety of activities and size of the school are all factors that can play into the decision-making process.
Having an in-depth campus visit makes this major decision easier, which is why Northwestern University has offered the Discover NU program for over 25 years.
Discover NU takes place during three fall weekends. Around 560 students from across the nation were scheduled to attend during the weekends of Oct. 8-9 and Oct. 22-23. And an estimated 250-300 students are expected to participate during the last weekend Nov. 5-6.
During these weekend visits, high school seniors and their parents are invited to directly experience Northwestern student life. They are able to meet faculty and students, tour campus, learn about the six undergraduate schools and, if they choose, spend a night on campus.
High school senior Rosalie Sangenitto visited all the way from Santa Barbara, Calif., to learn more about Northwestern's radio/tv/film program.
“Discover NU has been very helpful,” she said. “Northwestern is my number one choice, and this weekend (Oct.8-9) has given me the information I needed to decide to apply for early decision.”
The purpose of Discover NU is to inform potential students of the many academic and extracurricular programs available to them at Northwestern. They are able to experience life firsthand as a student by being allowed to stay overnight in the dorms, eat in the dining halls and visit classes with a volunteer host student.
“This program aims to give high school seniors the information they need to decide if Northwestern is a school to which they would like to apply,” said Tiffany Mehling, assistant director of undergraduate admission and organizer of the program.
Participating students attended academic information sessions for each of Northwestern's six undergraduate schools; a variety of information panels including subjects about study abroad, internships and living on campus; and sessions on the admission process and financial aid. There was also a student involvement fair and facility tours of various buildings on campus. Parents were welcome to attend all activities, excluding the overnight portion of the program.
Although the name has changed over the years (previously known as Fall Overnight Program and Day at NU), Discover NU has been intact for over 25 years. While most universities offer open house programs to prospective students, Northwestern is unique in inviting serious potential applicants to experience staying overnight in a residence hall.
“We believe new freshmen will be happier with their final choice for college if they have had some actual experience with the enrolled students, faculty and facilities at the university they choose to attend,” Mehling said.
It is yet to be seen how many Discover NU students will decide to apply and be admitted to Northwestern next year, but Mehling said students who attend the program and apply do attend the University in higher numbers if they are accepted.