Message from the Dean
The University of South Alabama and the city of Mobile were fortunate. The tropical depression of last week that morphed into Hurricane Michael turned east and missed us. The devastation from the almost category five storm is horrendous. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected.
The campus has been busy this month with prospective students and their parents visiting South. In addition to individual visits and campus tours, we are also holding USA Days in October and November. USA Day events include a campus information fair with representatives of academic programs and organizations, a panel discussion with current South students, a financial aid and scholarship overview session, a campus tour, and meetings with the dean and faculty in the student’s college. In the Mitchell College, the last session includes presentations and question sessions with the dean, the department chairs, and Mitchell College students. Both formalized events and individual tours have unique advantages; attending a USA day gives the student the opportunity to interact with other students considering South, while the private tour is more focused on the individual student. Another advantage of the individual tour is that these are scheduled during the week when the campus is alive with students. If possible, prospective students should arrange both a private tour and attend a USA Day.
Interestingly, I recently came across of the “Top Ten Reasons NOT to Choose a College.” The list was put together by the state of North Dakota. The reasons include:
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend is going there.
- Your best friend is going there.
- It's a party school.
- You decided in the 7th grade that you wanted to go there.
- Your mom and dad are alumni.
- It has a good football team.
- Your school counselor told you to pick it.
- The school is prestigious.
- The tuition is low.
- It looks good in the guidebook.
Too many students use one of the above as their deciding factor. So how to avoid making the wrong choice? I am a big fan of campus visits. I don’t believe that a student should ever choose a college without spending time on the campus. Each university has its own blend of nuances; the “one size fits all” is especially untrue when talking about student/campus fit. Having put this decision in the rear view mirror three times, I can say that the things attracting my children to the colleges were vastly different. None of them attended the schools that my wife and I attended; it’s safe to say that sending a child to a campus solely because of a family connection is more than likely a bad decision. I know that visits are a time consuming process not without cost; however, the effort made will most often be rewarded with a good student experience. Many of the prospective colleges will personalize the visit if asked. Meetings with faculty members in the discipline of interest, class attendance, and other activities are often available if the request is made.
The process is manageable with a little effort and a good deal of patience. It’s one of those situations where the effort required is well worth the result. In any event, remember, “This too shall pass.” See you next month.
Bob G. Wood