The university opens it's doors to over 270 potential students for it's first open house
On October 14, campus was bustling with wide-eyed grade 12 students, all eager to see the New England-style campus and hear about what the next four years could have in store for them. The StFX Open House, was the first event of its kind to be put on by the university in recent memory. Primary event coordinator and Coordinator of Tours and Special events Keegan MacNeill, described Saturday’s Open House as “a smaller version of Welcome Day.” MacNeill explained to us that he was keen on giving prospective students the full scope of what life on campus is like, and that something of great importance was to make sure there was a “personal touch to everything on campus.”
Over 270 prospective students were welcomed to campus that Saturday, a response that Director of Marketing and Communications Kyler Bell describes as “tremendous.” Bell goes on to say that, “from a prospective student perspective, we actually surprised ourselves, exceeding our target participation by over 40%.”
The students and their families were treated to many events, one being the Academic Showcase, which had faculty and upper year students from every department and program at StFX answering questions and giving detailed descriptions of what to expect. However, academics weren’t the only part of StFX being showcased. In the Bloomfield Centre, the Mackay lounge was filled with booths and friendly faces eager to answer any questions about the student services available on campus. And if students felt they were ready to apply, an on site station was available. For the students who were keen on StFX and submitted an application prior to October 10, they could receive confirmation of enrolment when they arrived that Saturday. An advantageous offer, seeing as early application for the 2018-2019 school year did not open until the following day.
Kyler Bell indicated that although they are still collecting feedback, “all early signs are indicating that the day was a huge success.” In talking about the planning process for the successful event, Bell commented that the idea for an open house had been “ around for a few years and on [the university’s] radar” and MacNeill went on to say that the overall vision that was executed came from Academic Vice President and Provost, Dr. Kevin Wamsley. Although StFX was one of the last institutions in Atlantic Canada to introduce this type of event, MacNeill stated that “no inspiration came from other universities” in the planning process. He went on to explain that, “you want to reach students by first, bringing them to campus and second, having them interact with the people who will be here while they’re here. Whether that’s other students, faculty, staff or administration, facilitating those interactions between prospective students and our community is what will get them excited to come back.” There’s no better time to be getting students interested in coming to StFX, seeing as this years enrolment numbers are down from last year.
According to the Association of Atlantic Universities 2017-2018 Preliminary Survey of Enrolments, StFX is overall down 3.0% from last year and the number of full-time first-year post-secondary students down a total of 8.2% from last year. And with an entire five-floor residence able to be closed for this year, the event may have appeared as quite timely. To which Kyler Bell responds, “our full-time numbers are down slightly this year, so I can’t say that [it] wasn’t a contributing factor.” Regardless of the motivations behind the Open House, it’s safe to say that among organizers, staff and participants the day was a huge success and was able to open up a glimpse of the vibrant community we all get to see regularly to potential future Xaverians.