By Maddie Johnson, Senior Writer
This year marked an extraordinary set of Accepted Students Days for Manhattan College. The college opened its campus to high school students on March 30, April 6 and April 23 for informative in-person sessions about the school’s facilities and departments.
This time around, Accepted Students Days were crucial to growing the Jasper community considering this has been the first time Manhattan College hosted the event since the spring of 2020.
For Ben Boivin, this year’s Accepted Students Days were critical for the school to showcase their welcoming community in a more personal way that beats marketing online.
Boivin is a Manhattan College alumnus and has worked in the Undergraduate Admission department for almost a decade, starting out in 2012 as an admissions and financial aid counselor, then working as an associate director in 2018. He is currently the director of undergraduate admissions after returning two years from getting his degree to become a senior copywriter.
His experience as a student and employee for the admissions department has shaped him to be an expert when it comes to promoting Accepted Students Day and knowing what students and parents are looking for.
“One of the signs I’m seeing is that people seem to feel like New York City’s back. I think people have been scared of New York City for a long time now and I honestly still think New York City is scared of itself, but I think students are super excited to get back in person,” Boivin said.
According to Boivin, each event had a great number of attendees, with the last day, on April 23, being the highest. The first day, March 30, hosted about 550 attendees while the second day hosted less with 400 attendees. Remarkably, the last day is expected to set a record as the most attended Accepted Students Day of all time at Manhattan College.
“The third one coming up this Saturday, April 23 is the biggest we’ve ever had in history at Manhattan College,” Boivin said. “It’s 425 students registered right now with about 1600 guests registered. So, if 60% of the people registered actually attend, which is pretty common, we’re going to actually have more people in the third one than the first two combined.”
Strategically, Boivin explained hosting one of these days on a Saturday and closer to May 1, the date when high school students have to finally choose a college, is a game changer when it comes to raising the number of attendees.
“We look at our competitors like Fordham and Iona and look at their schedules and see when they’re doing things and we are doing ours later in the season because the majority of our students don’t deposit until the very last minute. We decided on April 23 because that’s giving students one more week to make the final decision and because we have so many students still registering up to the date, we think it shows students are still really interested in coming to Manhattan College.”
Along with picking a date close to May, the admissions department made the executive decision to not mandate masks for accepted students coming to visit campus for the day. Although there were mixed reactions from faculty and students, with some feeling unsafe and others believing making visitors wear a mask wasn’t necessary, Boivin ultimately saw the mask mandate as putting Manhattan College at a disadvantage over other schools.
“We don’t want that to appear like we are not following science because I think we definitely want to follow science, but at the same time we don’t want to be the only ones you know wearing masks,” said Boivin. “We could walk down the road to 225th street and there is a Target with families who go unmasked, and then we head to our campus and suddenly we’re forced to wear masks. So it’s just a weird look and I think that it’s better to make masks optional.”
The communication department was present throughout the three dates to show the equipment, resources and various concentrations students have available to them. Chairperson Michael Grabowski, Ph.D., shared the rundown of how students later in the day get to tour the communication facilities with him after learning more about the School of Liberal Arts.
“Students interested in the School of Liberal Arts meet with the dean and a panel of students and then students who are interested in a particular discipline can go off with a representative for a discipline and talk with them in a space,” Grabowski said. “I took the students who were interested in communication down to Leo hall, I showed them our facilities and brought them into the television studio and had a conversation with them about the core program and communication in the six concentrations.”
This year the communication department has seen a decrease in the number of students declaring themselves communication majors and attendance at communication-related events at Accepted Students Day go down. Grabowski shared several reasons why he thinks interest in studying media has dropped while interest in psychology has spiked.
“We’ve seen a decrease in the number of students declaring themselves communication majors,” Grabowski said. “We’re seeing this at the same time that we’re seeing an explosion of students declaring as psychology majors and I think that speaks to the signs of the times that for the last couple of years, Mark Zuckerberg has had to testify in front of Congress and right now there is a question about disinformation. I think it’s incredibly important to study this field given all of that, but also given the past two years of pandemic, it makes sense that many students are interested in studies of psychology because of the incredible mental health crisis.”
In an emailed statement, the chairperson of the psychology department, Zella Moore, Ph.D., said the number of those wanting to major or minor in psychology have grown in response to mental health issues that erupted from the pandemic.
“While high school seniors and new admits have recently expressed a great deal of interest in joining the psychology department, our somewhat higher numbers are still within a fairly normal range for us,” Moore wrote. “It does appear that the pandemic has had an impact on psychology numbers across the country (at both undergraduate and graduate school levels), as compromised mental health and overall wellbeing have been tragic consequences of the pandemic.”
Engineering chairperson, Anirban De, Ph.D, was also present throughout Accepted Students Day. With those interested in engineering, De explained students were given the opportunity to look at the labs designed for various engineering fields, including civil and environmental. Afterwards, attendees were taken to see Manhattan College’s newest science center, the Higgins Building.
De discussed how these events are vital to representing Manhattan College’s engineering program. The chairperson pointed out the school doesn’t have as many funds and resources as other schools and therefore depends on in-person events to advertise the college well.
“We do not have the glitter and the glamor and the kind of the marketing strength that some other schools with a lot more resources have. But, when they actually get to see us in action, they go to the classrooms, they go to the labs and talk to us they understand the strength. They start appreciating our strengths,” De said.
In light of being able to host Accepted Students Day after two years, Boivin has reflected on how a small institution like Manhattan College needs in-person events to genuinely show how the school operates and welcomes prospective students eager to study in New York.
“I think it is impressive to families that we’re willing to take time out of our day. We have deans, faculty and current students that give these families a personalized experience because it’s just something you don’t get from other places. Every college in the country talks about tight knit communities and close knit campuses and those cheesy words, but I think that Manhattan College really proves it during Acceptance Students Day.”