Sunday, October 25, 2009

Isn't Recruiting Only For Athletes?

Photo by: Luke McConnell
Jacobson Hall on the campus at the University of Oklahoma houses the university's recruitment services

You may think that only the athletes are the ones that get recruited for school.  However, when you look at the process and the attention that you get as a prospective student, it is basically a recruiting process and it starts with your first impressions on campus.

Every single university has some sort of a prospective students’ center.  These centers house many different resources that students can use on their college searches.  These resources include information about the school, scholarship information, admissions information and campus tours. 

“Members of the Recruitment Services team at OU assist students with their college search by providing information about admission, scholarship, housing and financial aid,” said Andy Roop, director of Prospective Student Services at the University of Oklahoma.  “We also assist by providing information about the university as a whole, individual colleges and departments as well as student life.”

Campus tours are one of the more important things that a prospective student can do to get a good feel for a school.  On a campus tour, you don’t only get to see the campus, but also get to hear about different amenities that the campus offers.

Photo by: Luke McConnell

Prospective students tour the campus at the University of Oklahoma 

Rachel Tyrell is a tour guide at the University of Oklahoma.

I feel like I play a major role in the recruitment process because most students do not know a lot about a campus until they actually come to do a tour, even if they have been here for football games,” Tyrell, a sophomore, said.  “On the tour we not only show the campus but highlight resources and different aspects of the learning experience that is appealing to prospective students.”

Tyrell said that she feels a bit of pressure as a tour guide but tries to just let the character of the campus shine through on its own.

“I feel a little bit of pressure to impress the students because it is their first impression; but, at the same time, the University of Oklahoma's campus speaks for itself,” Tyrell said.  “Our campus is gorgeous, and when going on a campus tour, OU has a sense of feeling at home.”

Tyrell said that it was important to go to a school that you enjoyed, but it is more important to go somewhere that will be of a benefit to you as a person, no matter what the campus looks like. 

“I would tell a prospective student to go where they feel comfortable, where they will be challenged academically, and where they will have phenomenal opportunities to grow their leadership skills, community service opportunities, and grow as a person,” Tyrell said.

Some students choose to take the risk of going to a school without ever seeing the campus and going based solely on academics and reputation.

“I didn’t have the time to get away and take a college visit,” said University of Oklahoma freshman Tryston Walsh.  “My family is a very busy family.”

Walsh said that although he didn’t visit OU before going there, things worked out well in a big way. 

“I was in awe,” Walsh said of the first time he stepped on campus.  “I was amazed by the architecture and how nice everything was.  I think it is a beautiful campus.”

Walsh said that even though things worked out for him, he would not advise not visiting a school before deciding to attend it.

“It’s not a smart decision because you need to see what you’ve applied to,” Walsh said.  “You need to know general information about your school before getting there.” 

Roop says that he always pushes students to take campus tours.

“My advice is always - visit campus,” Roop said.  “It is the best way for a prospective student to truly get a feel for the university they are thinking of attending.  We will do our very best to provide a great campus visit for prospective students.”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

College (Football) Traditions

After a couple of weeks of advice and typical issues with college, we’re going to steer away from that and focus on some of the more fun things about the college experience.  This week, we’re going to look at some of the great traditions of college football.  I have personally experienced all of these traditions and feel that they are some of the better ones in the game today. 


The 12th Man- Texas A&M University


Nothing else says tradition like Texas A&M.  They have more traditions than you can count.  They even have a traditions council!  According to their website, the 12th Man originated in 1922 when a student was called out of the stands to suit up in case the Aggies ran out of players.  E. King Gill never got into the game, but he stood on the sidelines the entire game, ready in case head coach Dana X. Bible needed him to play.  The students adopted that policy of readiness and support as their mantra and today, the entire student section stands the entire game, no matter the score, in support of their Aggies.  The entire story can be read here.

The Texas A&M students are very proud to take part in this tradition and continue to channel the “Spirit of Aggieland” at all times.

“The 12th Man symbolizes the Aggie spirit in such a way that no matter what, every Aggie is there for the team no matter the score, and we will always stand up and support our team,” said Mark Siegmund, sophomore and member of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M.  “Being part of the 12th Man is one of the greatest experiences of my life; one that evokes a great amount of pride from you and truly shows you how Aggies bond together and yell for their team.”


Howard’s Rock- Clemson University


At Clemson University, players rub what looks to be an ordinary rock before running down a hill onto the field at Death Valley.  But this is no ordinary rock.  This rock was given to the Clemson head coach Frank Howard by a friend, S.C. Jones, who picked up the rock in Death Valley, California. Howard kept the rock in his office as a doorstep and one day told a Clemson booster to, "take this rock and throw it over the fence, or out in the something with it, but get it out of my office."

The booster instead mounted it on a pedestal where the players ran down the hill prior to kickoff.  Prior to running down the hill on the first game the rock was up there, Howard told his players: "If you're going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you're not, keep your filthy hands off it." The story became legend among the Clemson faithful.  The complete story can be read here. 

While the rock is something that only football players touch and something that students dream of being able to do, it still inspires them every game knowing that the team is going to lay it all on the line for the victory. 

“I think Howard's Rock is an important tradition for Clemson because it symbolizes a players ability, skill, heart and work ethic to reach that moment when they first get to rub the Rock and run down the hill,” said Matthew Patterson, sophomore at Clemson.  “Not all players get to rub the rock and run down the hill but when that moment comes, 110% is all they will want to give.  Every time after that the feeling returns again and again until it is instilled in the heart of every player forever.”

The traditional rubbing of the rock is part of the Clemson team entrance, which people have dubbed, “The most exciting 25 seconds in college football.” 


The Red River Rivalry- University of Oklahoma vs. University of Texas


The Red River Rivalry is one of the most exciting and intense rivalries in college football today that pits two of the greatest programs to ever play the game.  Played in the Cotton Bowl in the middle of the State Fair of Texas, this atmosphere is unmatched in terms of excitement.  The rivalry began in 1900, but wasn’t moved to the Cotton Bowl as a permanent location until 1929.  Since then, the rivalry has become famous with the famous split of colors at the 50-yard line.  Half the stadium burnt orange, the other half crimson. 

Kenny Mossman, senior associate Athletic Director for Communications and the University of Oklahoma says that the State Fair is the perfect venue to showcase this intense and special rivalry.

The success of the programs, the geographic proximity of the two schools to each other and of course the atmosphere of the State Fair make this rivalry very special each and every year,” Mossman said.

OU students also treasure the atmosphere and the significance of being able to experience one of the greatest of college rivalries in one of the most historic stadiums in football history. 

“For me it is the simple fact of tradition,” said Tyler Knowles, senior, University of Oklahoma.  “Having two teams with such great tradition and backgrounds laying it all on the line at the Cotton Bowl every year. Some of the greatest college football players have played in this rivalry as well as coaches. Seeing the two teams running out of the tunnel, having the stadium split down the middle, half crimson and half burnt orange, and just seeing the animosity between the two schools makes it so special. There honestly is no greater rivalry in sports.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Week

Hey everyone I hope you are having a great week so far!  I just wanted to give you a heads up about this week's post.  I'll be talking about college traditions and have some great shots and stories from the OU vs. Texas game this weekend.  It's gonna be awesome so get excited!  

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Personal Experience

When I was looking at colleges, my family wasn’t in the best of financial situations.  My dad was a student at Baylor University pursuing a PhD in New Testament in order to be a college professor.  He made about $15,000 a year in that capacity.  My mother has not held a job since I was born (I am the oldest child) and she did not intend to start then.  My parents had done very smart investing throughout their marriage so we were not solely living off of my dad’s income by any means.  However, college was a bit of a concern for us financially. 

I did my part and filled out a FAFSA to apply for federal aid.  However, because of my parents’ great investments, our gross family income was much higher than the $15,000 my dad made annually.  My parents, particularly my mom, were very adamant about me pursuing scholarship opportunities.  I applied for every scholarship through my high school that I was eligible for and also applied for several through the colleges I applied to and others that were recommended to me by my guidance counselor.

I received scholarships from both Baylor University and the University of Oklahoma.  I did not receive anything from the University of Georgia however, because their scholarships are highly competitive due to an in state incentive program.  I also received all of the scholarships that I applied for through my high school.  With all of the money I received, my first semester of college was almost completely paid for.  People are just waiting to give out money so that you can go to college.  All you have to do is work at it so that you can find those opportunities and apply for them!

Fear Factor #3: Cost

“Honey we just can’t afford it right now.”

No student ever wants to hear these words, especially if it involves the crushing of a dream that they have had since childhood; the dream of going to college and getting an education.  This week, we’ll look at the cost of college and how to work around it so that you can pursue your dreams. 

Every year, students across the country do not get the opportunity to attend college because it’s just too expensive.  However, there are many ways to overcome these financial hardships. 

“I think that anytime someone doesn’t come to college because of finances, it’s because of a lack of knowledge of what is there and what the options are,” said University of Oklahoma Bursar Max Hawkins. 

Hawkins said that too many students look at their financial status and immediately get worried or scared about the prospect of paying for college and don’t fully research the options that are available. 

“I think sometimes they get scared; they get scared of finances,” Hawkins said.  “They are uninformed about finances and probably received some bad advice from people.”

These options that Hawkins speaks of stem from the all-important Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

“The first thing anyone should do when coming to college is fill out a FAFSA,” Hawkins said.  “That is the number one starting spot.  It doesn’t matter what your family income is, whether you think you’re going to be eligible for something or not, you should still fill it out.  It’s free and it doesn’t obligate you to anything.”

Pam McConahay, Associate Director for Financial Aid at the University of Oklahoma said that federal financial aid has only been around since the 1950’s.

“They [the government] established the National Defense Student Loan in 1958,” McConahay said.  “It was a result of the Russians launching Sputnik.  The United States thought that we weren’t training our students well enough and having enough students going into engineering so they created that loan program to get more students going to school.  Before that the only thing that they had was the GI Bill.”

McConahay said that scholarships are another great way to offset to expenses of college.  There are a lot of them out there and many that apply to very specific groups of people. 

“There are over 900 individual scholarship programs at the University of Oklahoma, some need based and some merit based,” McConahay said.

Students say that scholarships are definitely a huge help when it comes to offsetting the costs of college.

The majority of the cost of college is covered by a scholarship I received,” said Tom Pedersen University of Oklahoma accounting sophomore.  “My out-of-state tuition is waived, which makes coming to The University of Oklahoma much cheaper. What's not covered by scholarship, my parents pay for. I don't really have to worry too much about paying for college because my parents have been saving up for me to go to college for years. I'm mindful and grateful for their provision and try to keep my spending while I'm here down out of respect for them.”

Family saving is also a huge key as many parents anticipate this huge financial investment many years in advance. 

“I get money from an account that my grandfather set up for me when I was younger,” said Lauren Jackson, University of Oklahoma social studies education sophomore.  “It runs off stocks and bonds.”

The goal of the government is to have everyone in college who wants to be there.  The funding is available; it’s just a matter of finding it and applying for it. 

“It is never too late to apply for financial aid,” McConahay said.  “There is always some funding left.  It’s about making sure that people get an opportunity.”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

They Said It. . .

Some students sound off with advice about looking at school sizes


“Well I'd say that you should find a college you love first and then consider the size second. If you don’t absolutely love the school and everything it stands for first then the size wont matter; you're not going to enjoy it. But if you love the school then you will find your niche and the size wont matter whether it is big or small.”

-Lindsey North, sophomore, Texas A&M University


“Choose wisely and look beyond the campus size.  Look at the community around it, teacher student ratio, and even how nice the campus and its accommodations are.”

-Kendall Sherrill, sophomore, Spartanburg Methodist University


“Don't let the size of a college bother you while looking at schools. Go where you want to go. If it happens to be a big school, then it will probably take some time getting used to, but if it's where you are supposed to be, with time, it will feel right.”

-Will McCarthy, sophomore, University of Texas


“If having personal relationships with your professors and faculty of your university, and having greater chances to get involved and stay involved is high on your priority list, then a smaller university is the best bet for you!”

-Lane West, sophomore, Oklahoma Christian University


“I would tell them to really take it on account of the university.  See how each university goes about getting their students involved, and how the campus breaks down!”

-Abbie Adams, freshman, Texas A&M University


“I would suggest going wherever you feel most comfortable. Don't go for your friends or family, go for yourself. Whether you go to a big school or a small school, college is what you make of it. If you sit in your dorm all the time, that is what you are going to remember as your college experience.”

-Lindsey Provine, sophomore, Western Carolina University


“I would tell students to have a general idea of what they want (huge, tiny, etc.), but not to get too hung up on that. Visit a school to get an idea of it, rather than judging based on a number on a page. That can be misleading, so don't let it freak you out!”

- Aubrey Mowery, sophomore, University of Georgia


“I would recommend that you do your research on schools and then make an official campus visit to every school that you are interested in.  You will then have chances to determine the feel of the size and environment of the schools.”

-Kevin Kirk, Director of Campus Visits, Baylor University

Fear Factor #2: School Size

Last week we talked about the fear factor of distance.  This week we turn our attention to another fear factor: size of the school. 

Many students gripped by fear when they step onto a college campus for the first time.  Normally that sense of fear is eased as they take their tour, but sometimes, that fear stays as they walk around campus more and more and more.  Size definitely plays a big part in the initial mentality of a student and their evaluation of a school.

Kevin Kirk, Director of Campus Visits at Baylor University has this to say about size. 

“The size of a school does factor in for most students,” Kirk said.  “Although for the most part, it's not just the overall enrollment that is important.  Students are also very interested in class sizes, faculty to student ratios, the number/choices of activities, and can they find a small group of friends that they can relate to.”

Kirk says that at Baylor, he and his staff try their best to show potential students what it really is like and don’t try to make the campus smaller or bigger than it actually is. 

We do our best to show what is really there and what it is really like to be a student at our school,” Kirk said.  “The most important thing is for the student to get a realistic impression that will help them to make the right decision in school selection.”

Kirk said the best way to evaluate the schools that you are looking at is to visit each one of them in person and make a judgment call on size based on the environment.  He also said to talk to current and former students.

“Talk to lots of current students at a school to get the ‘real story.’” Kirk said.  “This will help to not be inaccurately swayed either way.”


The Bigness


According to fall 2008 enrollment numbers, The Ohio State University had the largest campus in the US with 53,715 students.  Arizona State was second with 52,734 and the University of Florida was third with 51,413. 

These are mind-boggling numbers for students who have maybe never been anywhere in their life where so many people are in one place at one time.  It can be pretty overwhelming.

“It’s slightly overwhelming in the beginning, just because the campus is so big,” said Texas A&M freshman Abbie Adams.

As daunting as this may seem, many students feel that you can reduce the size of a college by simply discovering your niche.

It was never really intimidating to look at big schools but whenever I got to UT, it was kind of intimidating,” said University of Texas sophomore Will McCarthy.  “However, by the end of the first semester I found good groups of friends and organizations that made UT feel smaller and more like home.”

Some students such as Aubrey Mowery, sophomore at the University of Georgia, say that over time, you become used to the big school feel and it doesn’t seem as big.

The campus seriously isn't that big,” Mowery said.  “Wherever you go, you'll learn your way around quickly, whether it's a large campus or a small one.  Also, it doesn't even feel like there are 33,000 or however many people on this campus. It feels so much smaller than that! I've gotten to know my group of friends and the student groups I'm involved in, and both of those have made the campus seem way smaller and more intimate.”


The Smallness

At the other end of the spectrum are the smaller schools.  These schools have smaller campuses, smaller enrollments and a more intimate feel top to bottom. 

“I absolutely love going to a smaller university,” said Oklahoma Christian sophomore Lane West.  “We have just over 2100 students on campus, and surprisingly you know most everyone.  OC is awesome in that they really stress getting to know the people in your class and the people you essentially are with everyday.”

Many students think that with the smaller enrollments, they get more of an education due to the relationships they develop not only with their fellow students, but also with their professors. 

“You get help from teachers a lot more,” said Spartanburg Methodist sophomore Kendall Sherrill.  “The teachers actually teach instead of lecture because the classrooms are smaller and they have time to explain questions that students have.”

“School seems easier,” said Western Carolina sophomore Lindsey Provine.  “I have great relationships with my professors and they care and know about me.”

Big or small, there is a school out there for you.  You just need to get out and find it.