Nearly 60 percent of those who signed up in advance participated in SUNY Empire State College’s first-ever statewide open house, held Tuesday evening, June 28.
“We galvanized our resources at 32 locations and welcomed approximately 800 prospective students in a single day who wanted to learn about our extraordinary college and how they can enhance their personal and professional lives through an individualized college education,” said Clayton Steen, the college’s vice president for enrollment management, whose office led the statewide effort.
A significant number of prospective students completed applications and the college anticipates many others already in progress to be completed in the coming days.
The college also is in the process of following up with hundreds of additional inquiries about academic programs, financial aid, earning college credit for college-level learning and transferring credits.
These prospective students, the overwhelming majority of whom are adults, also asked about how, where and when they could complete their degrees.
“I’m not a kid anymore, I don’t learn by rote,” said one attendee at the college’s Latham location.
College faculty and staff discussed online and face-to-face learning, including individual, one-to-one learning with a faculty mentor, small online and face-to-face study groups, residencies and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to blend all modes of learning to best meet each individual’s needs.
Event planners Tracy Zappola, regional operations coordinator, Kate Colberg, outreach and recruitment specialist, and Samantha James, coordinator of student services, began reaching out to colleagues in other offices across the college during mid-April.
According to event planners, the most significant challenge in planning a statewide project involving multiple offices and departments and events at 32 locations was that it had not been done before and that they were starting from scratch.
The event planners praised colleagues across the state for their “fantastic cooperation and collaboration,” which facilitated the planning, organizing and execution of a successful event.
Approximately 250 members of the college community, faculty, professional and support staff, current students and alumni volunteered to participate for the evening event and many also volunteered to participate in the overall planning process.
“Faculty, professional staff, current students and alumni volunteered their time to network with this motivated group of curious and excited potential adult learners to talk about all the opportunities, as well as the realistic challenges of integrating academics into their busy lives,” said Steen.
Registration and attendance exceeded general expectations and have established a benchmark to measure the success of future events.
The college marketed the event in advance through advertisements on the web and social media channels and announcements on its homepage.
“This unprecedented, collegewide event proved to be an energetic meeting of like minds engaged in a serious discussion of how SUNY Empire State College can foster both intellectual and skills-based knowledge in each and every motivated student,” said Steen.