Publisher's note: The author of this post, Jamie Smith, is a contributor to ECU News Services.
Staff and volunteers spent Saturday, Sept. 28, showing more than 1,250 potential Pirates why they should call East Carolina University home.
ECU's annual Fall Open House brings high school and transfer students to campus for a day of tours, information sessions and a taste of Pirate culture. Approximately 150 staff and student volunteers worked the event to showcase the best of ECU.
Future Pirates posed by the large ECU letters in front of the new Main Campus Student Center as they exited buses to start their journey to becoming part of Pirate Nation.
Friends Bella Bryant and Jalyn Maldonado are seniors at Fuquay-Varina High School in Wake County and got up at 4 a.m. to travel to ECU for open house. Both are interested in nursing careers and came to learn more about campus life.
"I decided to check out ECU because a friend's older sister came here and she just always had a lot of really great stories from her time here,"
Some of the items on the agenda for prospective students and their families included sessions on campus living and dining, the academic and student services fair, campus and dorm tours, and lunch on campus. Professors and deans were on hand for afternoon academic sessions to help prospective students learn more about the majors they hope to pursue.
ECU Ambassador Shyla Fitzhugh gives a tour of campus. | Photos: Cliff Hollis
Megan Wade, associate director of marketing strategy, said the admissions team begins shaping the format of Fall Open House and searching for volunteers to help in the spring of each year, with the busiest time beginning in July when registration opens.
"There are a lot of logistics that go into planning a one-day event for such a large crowd. We want prospective students to see what ECU has to offer and provide opportunities to have their questions answered,"
The joint admissions and financial aid session is a popular one for students and their parents. It provides a framework for the steps students should follow to apply and the importance of deadlines.
DeeDee Phillips '86, '89, '06 attended the financial aid session with her daughter Carson, who is interested in ECU's theater program. Phillips has already gone through the college application process with her son, who is enrolled at ECU's School of Dental Medicine.
"I learned deadlines are important and that things are due very soon. You can't procrastinate,"
Malecca Jones and her sister Ashanti Gray enjoyed a treat from the Starbucks truck with their dad while waiting to enter the academic and student services fair inside ECU's Student Recreation Center.
"I decided to come here because they have a great dental program and that's what I want to be, so I decided to come and check it out and see the campus. I have a lot of friends who go here, and they told me really good things about ECU, so I decided to come and check it out for myself,"
Visitors had the opportunity to attend sessions on topics like financial aid and housing.
said Jones, a senior at Eastern Wayne High School in Goldsboro.
In all, 47 sessions were offered during the open house and more than 4,000 prospective students and parents were on campus to learn more about the university. Current ECU students who volunteer as Pirate Navigators and ECU Ambassadors answered questions and led walking tours of campus. Cheerleaders, members of the marching band and PeeDee were all on hand to welcome the guests to campus.
Paula McNeill traveled from High Point to attend open house with her children, Mary and Nicholas, who may follow in their big sister's footprints and become Pirates too. McNeill said knowing her younger children are considering ECU makes the process comforting.
"I've already been through this, been on campus, been to football games and to the dorms,"
she said. "It was a great experience."
For those unable to attend Fall Open House, walking tours are available daily
and a virtual tour
can viewed online anytime.