Laker Experience Day draws hundreds of prospective students

GVL / Sara Carte - High school students recieve a tour of Grand Valley for Laker Experience Day on Friday, Apr. 8, 2016.

Sara Carte

GVL / Sara Carte – High school students recieve a tour of Grand Valley for Laker Experience Day on Friday, Apr. 8, 2016.

Jordan Schulte

Nearly 900 high school students and parents filled the Fieldhouse Arena on April 8 as part of Laker Experience Days. The event, hosted by the admissions office, is designed to offer prospective students a glimpse into what Grand Valley State University has to offer.

High school students took tours, spoke with advisers and learned about studying abroad over the course of the day-long event. After a brief overview of the university, prospective students were free to explore areas that interested them. Various academic departments had tables in the Fieldhouse and shared information with those interested.

The admissions office organizes several Laker Experience Days per year. Assistant Director of Admissions Libby Bonnell called the event a huge success.

“Every year the turnout is great,” she said. “There are so many things at Grand Valley to get students excited.”

But how do high schoolers react to the potentially overwhelming amount of information offered to them? LeAnn Tibbe, associate director of student life, summarized it in one word: “wow.”

“They’re juniors in high school, so they’re a little nervous. What do you even look for? What do you even ask?” she said. “Grand Valley does a really good job of helping them and making them feel comfortable.”

Bonnell said GVSU has organized Laker Experience Days for at least 15 years. In her time planning the events, she said they’ve only grown in popularity. A Laker Experience Day held a week before the April 8 event drew 1,100 attendees.

Tibbe’s experience with the event tells a similar story. When she began working the event years ago, she was able to run the student life table by herself. Now, she says she needs five students to help handle all the interest.

Getting high school students interested in the university is one thing, but getting them to decide on GVSU is another. While data on how many attendees end up choosing GVSU is difficult to gather, Bonnell said surveys completed by prospective students show favorable impressions of the event.

Tibbe said some of the best experiences that attendees have come from interactions with GVSU students.

“If they’re walking on campus and they see someone else who’s smiling at them, or even other students that attend here that would say, ‘hey, you guys are visiting Grand Valley, you’re going to love it,’” she said. “It’s everybody’s responsibility when we have these days to be the kind of people that I think Lakers are.”