Prospective Students Discover UB

"Discover UB," Saturday's day-long exploration of the university for high school seniors and their families, offered students the chance to see what life at UB can be like.

The day commenced with a "welcome address" from President William R. Greiner and an introduction by Regina Toomey, director of undergraduate admissions. The end of the speech was marked by the beginning of the flag processional, during which the prospective students followed the flag representing their academic interest to the various presentations.

"I was really impressed by the depth of the programs they have here ... they have almost everything you could be interested in, it's not like a lot of the other SUNYs we've been to," said Elaine Shaffner, mother of Michael, a possible engineering major.

Presentations were held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., offering students information on topics ranging from UB schools and departments to academic advisement and from technology to the army ROTC. Most, if not all, of UB's academic offerings were represented at Discover UB.

Stephanie Riestrom, a 17-year-old prospective communications major, said, "It's cool that they have a lot of majors and minors; if I change my mind halfway through, I could always change to something without a lot of trouble, probably."

"The whole tour's been pretty normal, a lot like the tours at some of the smaller schools we've seen," said Stacey Riestrom, Stephanie's mother. "I don't like the idea of having to bus between the two campuses. It's a really nice school, and the kids [doing the presentations] are really enthusiastic."

Registration for the open house was available by phone, by postal mail and on the Web - which, said Dave Emhof, senior academic advisor and open house coordinator, is an offering unique to UB.

The technology used for online registration, UB Explorer, not only pre-registers students but also allows users to design a personalized schedule for the day. The program also generates a map of the campus with destinations marked, allows users to send e-postcards featuring UB and provides hotel lodging information.

"I don't know of any other university that has this technology," Emhof said.

According to Emhof, this year's turnout beat last year's by around 500 people, judging by the pre-registration.

Set up in Room 145 of the Student Union were booths representing different aspects of student life, meant to "give students and parents a chance to check technology and learn about resident opportunity," said Carmela Thompson, associate director of admissions.

"They don't want to go too in-depth into academics, I think they're trying to stress the activities and extra stuff," said Heather Angelano, a 20-year-old mathematics major and possible transfer student from Fredonia. ". This school's just completely different from Fredonia ... I can't think of another school where you can walk everywhere indoors."

Part of Discover UB was a lecture followed by a reception in Pistachio's for "Academic Excellence Scholars" - possible University Honors Scholars - by invitation only. Around 1,000 students and parents altogether were selected for the lecture, which focused on scholarship and research opportunities available at UB for Honors students, based on the student's PSAT or ACT scores.

Organization for events like Discover UB, said Emhof, begins five months prior to the open house and winds down about a month after, with student follow-ups and departmental feedback sorted.

"It's definitely very complicated . we have a university-wide open house planning committee," said Emhof. The committee consisted of over 100 representatives from academic units and student support services who helped organize the event.

A similar open house, Preview Day, will be offered April 13 for students accepted into the university and will focus primarily on the concerns of first-year students.

"Students and parents have different interests at that point," said Thompson.