Eden Prairie High seniors get a leg up on college admissions

7:54 AM, Nov 16, 2012   |    comments
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- "Congratulations!"  Kris Roach, Director of Admissions at The University of St. Thomas, shakes the hand of a prospective college recruit, and hands her a thick packet.

Roach is used to delivering good news, but it's not often she gets to do it in person.

"Frankly, the very first year they offered this program, we didn't take part, and then we heard about it, and we felt we were really missing out," Roach said.

The program is Eden Prairie's On-Site Admissions Day.  Modeled after a similar program a parent observed at a high school in Illinois, the event pulled in admissions staff from 31 different colleges this year to offer seniors admissions on the spot.

"There's a lot of work that goes into this day," said Eden Prairie counselor Julie Block.  "This day is about accepting the students, giving them more information about the school, kind of selling the school," added Block.

It's possible because the participating colleges raise the bar, so to speak, by setting slightly higher criteria for admission than a student would normally face.  Eden Prairie students who meet those criteria can apply to two colleges through the program.  EPHS counselors gather and screen the paperwork, then send the applications to the college.

"We go through them, make sure we have all their acceptance letters ready to go.  We come here this morning (and) we tell them the good news,"  said Danielle Whitney, part of a team of admissions counselors from Iowa State University.

In Whitney's case, she was also able to tell students about scholarships they would be awarded if they followed through and attended ISU.

"It's really, like relieving to know," said Rachel Schuetz, who qualified for a scholarship.

It's an obvious win for the students who can wrap up their college searches in the comfort of their own high school.  It's also a win for colleges.

"We realize the diversity in terms of the academic rigor that these students bring to the university," said Florensio Hernandez, an admissions counselor from Michigan State University. 

It also doesn't hurt to have his school colors and logo prominently displayed where up an coming students will see it.  "When students are seeing Michigan State, the table is downstairs with all the other universities, they kind of start thinking about it," said Hernandez.

"Everyone knows this is what seniors do," said senior Bryce Bockin, who was accepted to Michigan State.  "I just think that it's great publicity for all the schools that attend here."

It's a wide variety, from community colleges, to Big Ten universities, and selective private schools.

At the end of the day, nearly 400 acceptance letters were handed out to 260 students who will now have to decide if they will actually attend.

Then it's one more thing Eden Prairie students can check of their senior year to-do list.

"It's been an incredible experience for students just to even get a first admission school," said Block.  "It demystifies the college application process, and it's a win-win for students and colleges."

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved.)

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