Alyssa Arre, Photo Editor

“Welcome to the University of Rochester’s Class of 2017!”
For high school seniors admitted to UR, that is the message they read atop their acceptance letters. The waiting game is over, but the time to decide has arrived for those who have yet to commit to a school. Because of this, schools all across the country have traditionally hosted accepted students’ days in a battle to secure their enrollment. UR offers its unique twist  with seven separate days of action-packed programming — or, what admissions calls: “The 2017 Experience.”

Held from March 29 to April 22, “The 2017 Experience” gives admitted students a glimpse of the education, the students, and the city that possibly will be in their lives for the next four years. In the same vein as the University curriculum, “The 2017 Experience” is tailored to student and family interests. For instance, the majority of students visit during their respective spring breaks, thus the program’s variety of dates factors in those differences.

Moreover, the ability to pre-plan the day through online registration and scheduling allows the families to attend academic fairs within their potential academic department, participate in Q&A panels, or take a Meridian-led tour.
Senior Assistant Director of admissions Jennifer Blask is in charge of all of the events for “The 2017 Experience.”
“This is my fourth year coordinating the program, and every year we’ve had great feedback from students and families,” Blask said. “They can sit in on classes, check out a dorm room, eat in a dining hall, [and] take a tour of the city.”
The experience kicks off with organized student entertainment, featuring performances by groups such as the Midnight Ramblers and the YellowJackets. The families then split up and follow their schedules with the ability to confer first-hand with UR representatives to resolve the last outstanding questions they may have. Everyone reconvenes later for the Dean’s reception. Added this year, student socials enhance the admitted students’ glimpse of college life by providing a parentless environment for the admitted students to interact with the other admitted students as well as current members of the Meridian Society.
The journey to accepted students’ days involves much more than a train ride to campus, though. It begins with spreading word about UR. After all, students have to want to apply to UR before they can be accepted and listen to an early morning Rambler rendition of “Brown-Eyed Girl.”
There are 45 full-time faculty members and several dozen student workers under the direction of Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jonathan Burdick. UR admissions counselors attend college fairs as well as network with students and schools around the country and world. In the U.S., there are regional admissions directors in Los Angeles, Dallas, New York City, Charlotte, and Detroit, not only to mitigate travel expenses, but to build a relationship with the local area.
In the virtual world, UR has  a team of15 undergraduate bloggers who post about whatever college topics that they deem relevant.
“I try and give prospective students some insight on campus life,” blogger and freshman Grant Dever said. “I also like to post blogs that will encourage them to become active members on campus as I feel it’s rewarding to jump right into the campus community.”
On top of blogging, Dever works as a social media assistant for admissions where he manages the “Class of 2017” Facebook page. He also answers questions from prospective students via Twitter, mostly about whether or not they should attend UR.
Additionally, the office of admissions was responsible for the popular “Remember oUR Name” video and has produced similar promotional materials. Consider also that the University as a whole continually strives to maintain and increase the prestige of the institution — or briefly, to be “ever better” — and it is easy to see why UR attracts so many applicants.
“We had a huge surge of success this year in attracting applications, exceeding 16,000 for the first time, about a 9 percent increase [from last year],” Burdick said.
“With about 14 percent more files to read, our job in choosing from among them was harder than ever… we’ve had to notify about 50 percent more people than a year ago that they were flat-out denied admission,” denial given to students who, for the most part, still “have an academic record that predicts success here,” he explained.
Remarkably, UR’s hallmark diversity of students has increased yet again for the class of 2017. Among admitted students, less than a third of them are from New York State, according to Burdick. With out-of-state enrollment becoming more prevalent, visits, particularly “The 2017 Experience,” carry much more weight.
As opposed to regular visit days in which prospective students are given an information session, a Meridian tour, and in some cases, complete an admissions’ interview, “The 2017 Experience” acts as a kind of final sale of UR to our admitted students. While an estimated 55 to 60 percent of those visiting have enrolled already, the undecided students’ last visit may be what dictates their attendance.
“A campus visit is very important in students’ decisions on whether or not to attend a university,” Blask said. “We try to provide them with a great visit experience and opportunity to find out as much about UR as they can.”
Since students attending “The 2017 Experience” have already been accepted, they and their families no longer walk around campus nervously dreaming of becoming a part of UR; instead, they are choosing to enroll or not, looking at UR with what Burdick refers to as “owner’s eyes,” which “make it easier [for them] to picture themselves here for four years.”
Once admitted students are on campus, the dorm rooms and dining halls become that much more real, just like the prospect of attendance.
More importantly, these students will, at the end of their 2017 experience, have to answer the question: “Will I be a Yellowjacket come this fall?”

Brady is a member of
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