The day honoring first-year scholarship recipients experienced changes this year.
Typically, Top Scholars Day was held on a Saturday, but this year the event was on Friday, Feb. 1. Additionally, the program added aspects of Admitted Student Day, so students attending Top Scholars Day wouldn’t need to attend two separate events.
Mark Petty, dean of enrollment, said having the event on a weekday allowed potential students to get a sense of what campus is like during an academic day.
“They can see what life is like in the Muenster University Center (MUC), they could experience a classroom and they could engage with more faculty and staff that are not usually here on the weekends,” Petty said.
Before students can attend the event, however, they have to go through the scholarship application process.
Applications are first sent online and reviewed by members of the university’s scholarship committee.
One of the 16 committee members and political science professor, Eric Jepsen, said the committee is comprised of faculty members, community members and students.
After those applicants are narrowed down, the committee is joined by other volunteers to interview candidates through WebEx, a video calling system, Jepsen said.
“It’s a way to have a 20 or 25-minute conversation with people about the interesting things they’ve done,” Jepsen said. “Because a bullet point on a list…might have been dozens, if not more, of hours of work, and late nights and busy weekends for students.”
In the past, students were invited to campus to interview over a two day period and then again for an interview for a specific scholarship if chosen, Petty said.
“We found making a trip to campus could be a resource issue for families,” Petty said. “We wanted to provide opportunities for students to interview from their school or from the comfort of their home without having to make another trip to campus and then come back to scholarship day and then come back another day,”
Some departments, such as the Beacom School of Business, have already awarded department specific scholarships before Top Scholars Day.
Venky Venkatachalam, dean of the Beacom School of Business, said in an email interview with The Volante the department instead uses Top Scholar Day as an opportunity to host events for honored business students.
“We hosted 10 incoming business students at the Beacom School on Top Scholars Day,” Venkatachalam said. “While they were with us, students enjoyed a welcome session, visited a real estate class taught by Associate Dean De Vee Dykstra and a negotiation class taught by Tyler Custis.”
Other scholarships, like the Glenn E. and Barbara R. Ullyot Lakota Scholarship, are conducted in person during Top Scholars Day.
If students are not able to make it to campus for those types of interviews, exceptions can be made, Petty said.
“It does not count against them if they weren’t able to (travel to campus),” Petty said. “If there’s a barrier in place that does not allow them to get to campus for the interview, we will work with that student.”
Honored students were also able to eat lunch with USD President Sheila Gestring, attend informational sessions and register for classes, Petty said.
“Last year we had 21 students register for classes, 19 of those students ended up enrolling at USD this year,” Petty said. “This year we had like 27 students register for classes, so we’re optimistic that we’ll see similar, if not higher yield rate, on those students that want to enroll.”