Open house breaks school record

This weekend’s open house broke the record for number of attendance as the third largest in the school’s history.

Attendees are taken in groups to tour the freshmen dorms. Photo by Kayla Minion.

Western welcomed potential students and their families to campus at open house on Saturday, March 25. Attendees were given the opportunity to tour the campus and dorms, talk with representatives from academic departments and programs, and meet other prospective Catamounts.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Entourage staff members began setting up for the event at 4:30 a.m. Doors at the Ramsey Regional Activity Center opened at 8:15 a.m. letting the visitors inside to participate in the information fair before beginning campus tours and meetings.

“We had a grand total of 763 students and 1,223 guests in attendance.  Just shy of 2,000 guests with a grand total of 1,986.  For the year, we had approximately 5,900 total students and guests attend the three Open House events,” commented Patrick Frazier, Associate Director of Admissions Marketing and Recruiting.

So, what is it that makes Western a college that so many want to visit? Between students that visited for the first time on Saturday and students who have committed to attending already, there seems to be a common theme of answers.

Jesse Pigeon contributed with interviewing and footage.

Open house attendee and Shelby, North Carolina native Amy Houser was swayed to visit based on word of mouth. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about Western. Being here has really made me fall in love with it honestly. It’s just such a nice environment and there are so many opportunities, that’s why I really wanted to come here,” Houser said.

Houser attended  open houses at several other colleges in North Carolina including Gardner Webb and King’s College, but says that nothing compares to Western, “this is the best experience I’ve had and I love it here.”

Entourage tour guide leads open house group through campus. Photo by Kayla Minion.

Nick Watkins, a senior from Lexington, North Carolina,  said that he plans to attend Western because of the open house.

“When I attended the open house, I felt very welcomed by the community here and I became very excited to learn through the Parks and Recreation Management Department, which is where I am looking to pursue a career.” Watkins has been to the campus several times to visit his sister who is a current student, but took the opportunity to sign up for open house to get a better idea of what Western has to offer.

“I came that day undecided about my major and left confident in what I want to do. The open house figuratively “rolled out the red carpet” for incoming students and it was an overall great experience,” reminisced Watkins.

After their first full year at Western Carolina, the current freshmen have a new idea of what college is actually like based on their own personal experiences since they were the ones attending open houses.

Pride of the Mountains attracted a huge crowd at the information fair. Photo by Kayla Minion.

“It was close to home and had the major I wanted,” informed first year student Peyton Dudra. She had only attended open houses at a few colleges but knew that the convenience of Western was what she needed. As convenient as it has been, Dudra has definitely realized that college is more work than she expected, “I thought Western would be easier than I thought it would be.” Through dance classes Dudra has gotten to enjoy the pay off of hard work at Western, “When I danced at the Final Showcase for my dance class, it really showed me what I will end up learning before I graduate. It made me excited for what’s to come. I wouldn’t have that opportunity anywhere else.”

Since Fall 2016, first year Morgan Morton has learned a thing or two about being a college student. “It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be, but definitely just as rewarding. I thought that I would have a lot more free time and less worries than high school, but I have the same amount if not more troubles, but they are very different and a lot more significant,” Morton explained. She added that she chose Western when she realized “it was the only college I felt completely at home at.”

Open house appears to be a huge defining element when it comes to the decision making process of potential students. With the success of events in the past and this last groundbreaking day, Western seems to be on top of its game when it comes to drawing in a crowd and recruiting. “Our current estimation for first-year students this fall is approximately 1,900 students,” validated Frazier.