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'An amazing vibe': Open House 2014 attracts 4,000 prospective students

Concordia throws open its doors in a busy, high-energy day
November 11, 2014
By Sarah Buck

More than 4,000 prospective students and their families turned out on Saturday, November 8, for Concordia’s Open House and Portfolio Day. 

The visitors came from across Canada and, internationally, represented places as far away as Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Concordia’s president Alan Shepard was thrilled with the positive, high-energy atmosphere. He attributes this year’s success to the 800-plus Concordians who volunteered to host the event.

“There was a great buzz on both campuses,” Shepard says. “I saw future students and their parents being welcomed in a way that reflects how much pride our students, faculty and staff take in this university.”

The day couldn’t have happened without their support, Shepard says. “I want to thank the volunteers personally. Open House is a critical event, and I really appreciate the major contribution they made.”

Matthew Stiegemeyer, director of Student Recruitment, agrees. “It was an amazing vibe. This year, there was a real effort to inject some energy and fun. We wanted to give people the sense that this isn’t just a place to get information, it’s also a place to explore and enjoy.”

A popcorn machine, a cupcake truck and a photo booth helped foster the celebratory mood.

On the Sir George Williams Campus, the events concentrated in the Engineering, Computer Science

I want to thank the volunteers personally. Open House is a critical event, and I really appreciate the major contribution they made.

– Alan Shepard, president of Concordia

and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV) and the John Molson School of Business Building (MB) were set up according to a strategic floor plan.

The idea was to keep the crowds flowing in a way that would give visitors a chance to experience life at Concordia. For example, positioning the Student Services table next to café-style seating with free coffee had the desired result: coffee drinkers casually stopped by, saw what was on offer and engaged the staff members in conversation.

“Suddenly people were walking away with a whole new set of knowledge that they didn’t know would be important to them, based on a great interaction with a Concordian,” says Stiegemeyer.

A highlight this year: more than 1,350 prospective students pre-registered and received a personalized email with a proposed itinerary of events based on their profile.

The advance-registration campaign allowed prospective students plan their day, which ultimately generated a lot of interest in information sessions for specific programs.

This strategy clearly paid off for the School of Graduate Studies, whose presentation was standing-room-only.

“By introducing future students to the activities that we’d designed for them, we really showed the value of the day,” says Paula Wood-Adams, dean of Graduate Studies.

This year, Concordia’s faculty and staff also had a good sense of the day as a whole.

If a prospective student from Ontario asked about admissions criteria for Building Engineering, the Concordian they were speaking to would flag other items of interest — a presentation on moving to Montreal, for example.

“We’re moving from a transactional experience to a transformational concept,” says Stiegemeyer. “And it’s only possible because faculty and staff have been doing a wonderful job of putting forward that extra effort.”

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