Eight students from Mexico, Canada and China – all who currently attend high school in the U.S. – converged on HC campus in early February for the international student preview week. Visits like these are a weekly occurrence at Hesston. In fact, about 500 students visit Hesston each year, sampling what Rachel Swartzendruber-Miller, Vice President of Admissions calls “the uniqueness of Hesston College.”
“Our uniqueness is the reason why visits are so important,” Swartzendruber-Miller said. There are not a lot of colleges which is for two years, private, and faith-based.
“Many have no plans of considering a two-year private college,” she said. “However, once they come and get a taste for all Hesston has to offer, they realize it is exactly what they have been looking for.”
Swartzendruber-Miller says Hesston also has a very strong track record for campus visits. Every year, more than 40 percent of students who visit Hesston College choose to enroll. The percentage goes up if they stay overnight.
Freshman Jenna Denlinger from Lancaster, Pennsylvania went to few classes and took an audition for an instrumental scholarship when she visited. She also went to Drubers with her host, sophomore Mackenzie Miller, and some of her friends.
“My experience made me want to come to Hesston because I could tell the professors cared about the students, and I enjoyed the small campus feel,” Denlinger said. “Visiting is important because it allows to envision yourself on the campus and how you would fit in.”
Nick Platten, a student from Australia, came to Hesston College as a prospective student in April of 2017 after head baseball coach Kyle Howell contacted him. Dylan Schoknecht, a baseball player, hosted Platten when he visited.
Swartzendruber-Miller says Ambassadors like Schoknecht can be huge influences on prospective students’ decisions.
“He showed me how close everyone is,” Platten said.
Platten and Schoknecht spent a lot of time together, and Schoknecht introduced Platten to other students. That helped Platten to make more friends after he enrolled.
Therin Smith from Key West, Florida came to Hesston College as a prospective student during a performing arts scholarship week in February 2017. He watched students in Bel Canto singing in a class, and he also talked to music professors Russell Adrian and Holly Swartzendruber.
“You need to meet the people before you come here,” Smith said. “If you don’t like the people here, you are not going to enjoy it.”
To entertain prospective students, Brandy Quinn, admissions visit coordinator, makes individualized visit schedules for every single one of the almost 500 visits. If a prospective student is interested in the business major, he meets with David LeVan, and they talk about the student’s plan. If another prospective student is interested in softball, a player hosts her.
“I hope that they feel welcomed while they are here by students, faculty and stuff,” Quinn said. “I want them to feel more comfortable at the end of the visit than when they first come in.”