Family Day Attendance, Deposits Rise Sharply
Providence, R.I. — More prospective students committed to enrolling at Providence College than usual at the College’s Family Day on Saturday, April 14, according to Office of Admission officials.
Thirty students placed deposits to reserve their seats in the Class of 2016, said Raul Fonts, interim dean of admission. Typically, the office receives 15 to 20 on Family Day, he said.
“The day was as good as we could possibly imagine,” Fonts said. “The feedback, the vibe was just great.”
This year, PC received more than 9,600 applicants, its third-largest pool in history. The average unweighted GPA of the more than 5,600 accepted students was 3.51, he said. “Even with that many admitted, there was no dip in quality,” Fonts said.
Attendance at Family Day itself was up by a third compared to last year, with more than 700 prospective students, despite the number of other colleges that also held similar events on that date. Fonts felt confident by the trends thus far.
“Attendance at Family Day is a major indicator of how successful we’re going to be,” he said. “I’m very optimistic because the indicators are right.”
For those who were unable to attend, please call the Office of Admission for information about other opportunities to visit Providence College.
At the event, students and families heard welcome addresses from College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80; Dr. Aurelie A. Hagstrom ’85, associate professor of theology and department chair; and Matthew Santos ’14 (Cumberland, R.I.). They also could tour campus facilities and attend an academic department fair as well as panel discussions on financial aid, study abroad, and career services.
Father Shanley told the audience about construction both planned and already under way on campus, including the Ruane Center for the Humanities, where the Class of 2016 will take its second year of Development of Western Civilization, the centerpiece of the College’s redesigned Core Curriculum.
The building will support smaller classes designed to foster faculty-student interaction. “That’s what we offer you — you’re going to have to think, write, and talk about what it means to be a human being, about who God is, what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s beautiful, and what’s not,” Father Shanley said.
“That’s the most important thing that we offer you for the next four years … a place to think about the most important questions that human life has to ask,” he said.
Hagstrom discussed her experience as a student and professor at PC, where she studied theology despite the concerns of her blue-collar, Irish Catholic family who wanted her to pursue something more practical. Now on the other side of the podium, Hagstrom said the faculty “think education should not just fill your head. It should touch your soul.”
Santos said he was confident that he would have been able to make the most of his college experience anywhere, but at PC he found “a place where I could truly live.”
Some students got their first look at campus very recently. Thu Tran, a native of Hanoi, Vietnam, traveled to Providence from St. Gilgen International School in Austria. She took her first tour a week before Family Day and decided to enroll.
“Providence is perfect to me, so I decided to come,” Tran said.
PC is located fairly close to Boston, where her brother lives, and although she’s not Catholic, she attends Mass with friends.
“It’s quite nice to come live in a Catholic town again,” Tran said.
Greg Bonti of Westport, Conn. learned about PC from his guidance counselor at Staples High School. He was interested in learning more about the theater facilities as well as special education. “Because Greg’s not absolutely certain [about his major], he’s looking for a liberal arts college that provides a broad-based liberal arts education,” said his mother, Martha.
Multicultural recruitment expands
Nearly 18 percent of the students admitted into the Class of 2016 are students of color, the highest percentage ever, Fonts said. The College also held an overnight for 73 multicultural students from across the country to introduce them to campus. This is the third year that PC has hosted a multicultural student visit. Last year, 80 percent of those who attended the weekend enrolled in the College, said Carmen Perez, associate dean of admission for multicultural recruitment.
The visitors stayed with 65 host students and attended classes with them on Friday. The hosts were encouraged to give their guests informal tours, pointing out their favorite spots on campus and explaining what they enjoy about their experience. “They just build such a personal connection with the students that are here,” Perez said.
The prospective students also went to a panel discussion with faculty and staff on the college transition, since many of them will be the first in their families to pursue higher education, Perez said.
On Saturday, she led an in-depth session on financial aid for parents and families over breakfast, reviewing both the financial aid package as well as loans that are available for parents and how to decide what is an appropriate level of debt.
For Austin Blake, a student at Minuteman Regional High School in Lexington, Mass., the overnight was an opportunity to confirm his decision to attend PC. “I made it a long time ago,” he said. “The school spirit, the campus, the friendly people — it felt like home.”
He plans to double major in finance and business and is already considering PC’s 4+1 MBA program.
His mother, Tamra, said she was impressed by the way the curriculum “makes you really think.” “What I find here that I didn’t find other places was the focus on the spiritual growth as a human being,” she said.
Following doctor's orders
Jasmine Hamm of Wilingsboro, N.J., said she enjoyed many things about her overnight visit to the College, including Mass, the dorms and the campus tour led by her host. She was also excited about Development of Western Civilization.
The senior at Burlington County Institute of Technology said she first learned about PC from her physician, Dr. Daniel Licht. “He said it would be a perfect fit for me,” Hamm said. “He told me to look into it.” When she received the postcard invitation to the overnight, the student said she had to attend — and now she plans to enroll.
Some students could barely contain their enthusiasm for PC by the end of Family Day.
“It was exactly what I wanted,” said Vanesa Zuleta, a North Providence, R.I. resident who attends Masters Regional Academy in Smithfield. Her father, Cesar, said their parish priest recommended PC, and he was secure in the choice after Father Shanley celebrated Mass that morning. “I think, after today, this is the right place,” he said.
Zuleta wants to major in social work and minor in theology to develop a strong foundation in her Catholic roots while preparing to provide direct service to people.
“It’s so much more than a college. It’s a community. I’m going to feel like I belong here,” Vanessa said.
— Liz F. Kay