By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor
Many high school seniors are in the difficult process of narrowing down their college search. There are many factors to consider when choosing a college, and quality admission counselors can make all the difference in making a student feel informed and comfortable during an especially stressful time.
For every student at Oklahoma Baptist University, the journey to becoming a Bison begins in the admissions department. OBU currently has twelve admissions counselors and an event coordinator.
“The span of admissions overlaps.” admissions counselor Jordyn Woodward said. “We start working really intently with [high school] juniors coming June 1, but we are also very intently working with seniors on move in and all of that until August 1. I even have worked with freshmen and sophomores, so it depends on when the student starts looking into college.”
A large majority of OBU admissions counselors were once OBU students, who all have unique journeys and stories.
“As the only admissions staff member that didn’t attend OBU, my path here sounds strange,” Assistant Director of Admissions Justin Moore said. “But honestly, I’m in this job because I didn’t go to school here. God took my path through some disappointments, with my intention to go to medical school, that ultimately led me to be able to invest in the lives of families as they prepare for college, which is one of the biggest transitions you make in life. Ultimately, going to a different school is what led me to OBU admissions.”
Events and Visits Coordinator Kalyn Fullbright has a long history with the admissions department.
“I worked in the admissions office as an undergrad,” Fullbright said. “I was the co-chair of The Herd. I really enjoyed getting to be a part of the college decision process for prospective students as a student. Understanding how transformative my time at OBU was further inspired me to pursue a position in our University Admissions department post-grad.”
Admissions counselors are often charged with the difficult tasks of dispelling misconceptions about OBU.
“The most challenging aspect of working in admissions is combating preconceived notions about not only OBU, but Christian education,” Moore said. “When students realize what kind of relationship they will develop with their professors, I’ve crossed the biggest hurdle in willingness to consider OBU.”
As is the case at nearly every school, students are especially concerned about the cost of attending OBU.
“I think a lot of the time people think that a private college is pretty unattainable, but in all actuality, sometimes it works out to where it is actually fairly affordable,” Woodward said.
Each counselor serves a group of students from different geographic area. The department mainly serves incoming freshman and transfer students.
“We have twelve admissions counselors,” Woodward said. “The way that we do our jobs, it requires a lot more than usual. We are a lot more personalized and intentional with our students, so we have to work in smaller areas.”
The admissions department holds numerous events throughout the academic year, and even in the summer in an effort to get students to Bison Hill.
“While we host students on campus in many ways, we mainly plan three types of events: Bison Day, Night on the Hill, and Preview Day,” said Fullbright. “Each of these events takes careful planning and preparation, but they don’t happen without the rest of campus pitching in. What I didn’t understand before I took this position was exactly how much our faculty and staff give of their time and energy in recruiting our students alongside our admissions staff. Additionally, some of my best friends on campus include our facilities staff. They tirelessly work and encourage me all at the same time.”
These events allow students to get an up-close, real look at college life at OBU.
“Bison Day allows our guests to act as if they were a student for a day,” Fullbright said. “This allows them to go to class, chapel, and eat lunch in the caf. Night on the Hill provides a more in-depth look at our campus as students are able to real-life residential life. Finally, Preview Day offers a buffet of options for our guests to choose from. Students and their families are able to choose options during three breakout sessions.”
The most attended admissions event is typically Preview Day. Counselors stress the importance of visiting a college before a student commits to it.
“Individual campus visits are some of my favorite things our prospective students get to do,” Fullbright said. “Each student gets a personalized tour and a visit with her or his admissions counselor. This offers an intimate experience for our students to learn much about the college experience and what the next four years could be like.”
The admissions department is home to a student group called The Herd, who work in admissions and help with events and tours. The Crew is a new volunteer organization for those looking to help get students to Bison Hill.
“The Herd and, our newest organization on campus, The Crew, have been one of my favorite parts of the job,” Fullbright said. “They make my life more fun and they make this job so much easier. They help me and our staff in a million different ways–we honestly couldn’t do it without them! Their perspective of recruitment helps to motivate me and understand more about the students that will be on our campus in the future. These students consistently motivate and encourage me–you should meet all of them.”
Ultimately, the goal of an admissions counselor is to get a student to where they are meant to be.
“Seeing new students actually get on campus, get involved, and begin to not need us is easily the most rewarding,” Moore said. “As odd as it sounds, the day I realize I’m not needed is the day I know I’ve done my job well.”