Finding future Catamounts

Future Catamounts finding out information about various WCU programs. Photo by Alisha Lambert.

Approximately 1,800 students from across the U.S. ventured to Western Carolina University with their collegiate futures in sight on Saturday, Sept. 15 for the first open house of the year.

As the excitement of being a future Catamount lingered in the air, students and their families were able to see all that WCU had to offer during various sessions held throughout the day. These sessions included information on academic departments and programs, clubs and organizations, residential living, financial aid, and a campus-wide tour.

Some students were drawn to WCU for a certain department, athletic team, or just to see what the university had to offer them.

When asked what interested him about WCU, Collin Blackburn, from Durham, N.C., said “the forensics program, especially the body farm.” Blackburn also set off purple fireworks when he compared WCU’s body farm to their archrival. “I just heard that it’s better than App State’s.”

“The community is so involved in everything, it just feels homey,” said Niry Perez, from Asheville, N.C., when asked why she was considering WCU as her future college. Perez also hopes to play for the women’s basketball or volleyball team.

Open house also proves to be a great recruitment effort for professors and campus leaders.

“We’re able to bridge what our profession does and these students come and basically get their dreams validated,” said Dr. Josie Crolley-Simic, Director of Undergraduate Programs in the Social Work Department. “I think it’s the initial touch where they’re finding out is what I want to do really possible and is the program offered at Western.”

But the open houses do not come together without hours of planning, preparation, and hard work.

“We have been preparing for open house since the beginning of the year,” said Ryan Ogden, President of EnTOURage, the student tour group at WCU. “This past week I’ve worked about 30 hours just for preparation for this open house, including 12 last night.”

When all is said and done, and after all of the hard work; departments, professors, campus leaders, student clubs and organizations all unite for one purpose: to find future Catamounts.

“My favorite part of open house is probably when you see a student realize that this is the school that they want to come to. You can see it in their face and it’s something really special. You see it click and it’s an awesome feeling,” said Ogden.