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How to get to know a campus

Students from Oak Hill high school pose for a photo while visiting campus.Students from Oak Hill High School pose for a group photo while visiting campus in November.

They say there’s no better way to get to know a place than to see it for yourself, and that mindset has been driving students of all ages to WVU Tech’s Beckley campus over the last year.

Kent Gamble, Dean of Enrollment Services at WVU Tech, said that far more students have visited campus than in previous years.

A lot of that traffic, he said, is driven by admissions activities and the new campus location in Beckley. But statewide initiatives, like the College Foundation of West Virginia’s College Application and Exploration Week, are also encouraging K-12 students to think about college.

"It's about giving students, counselors and schools a dedicated week to really focus on thinking about that next step. And now that we're in Beckley and we're close to so many schools, they want to come here and see things for themselves,” said Gamble.

During that exploration week alone, the campus saw more than 150 high school visitors from Summers, Webster, Fayette and Nicholas counties.

Student from all over Raleigh County have been stopping by, too.

Kara Tabor is guidance counselor at Liberty High School. She visited campus with a group on Monday, November 13. She takes students on college tours two or three times each year because she believes it’s important for students to have a true-to-life experience.

"A lot of our kids have never been exposed to anything like this before, so it's really a great opportunity for them to come and just see what all is out there. It helps them in making decisions when they attend school,” she said.

Bethany Stover, a 17-year-old senior from Raleigh County, came along for the visit. It marked her second trip to campus in the last year. 

"I want to be a nurse or a pathologist's assistant. I haven't decided yet, but I definitely know that I'm going to college," she said.

With a medical career in mind, she was excited to explore the college’s programs and facilities.

“Seeing student life and the kinds of experiences you'll have is also really important," she said. “If you don’t experience it before you go, then you're not going to know what to expect and you're not going to know what to do or where to go."

That firsthand look at college can make a huge impact on a student in deciding if they like – or don’t like – a particular school experience. It evens helps some students realize that college is attainable.

"It boils down to exposure,” said Gamble. “It introduces them to the possibility of higher education and going after that degree. It's about getting their eyes open to all of their possibilities. What you see on television and what you hear about college is very different than what you see and experience for yourself.”

Gamble said that prospective students and their families can find that experience in a number of ways.

The University hosts regular “Open House” events, where students and their families can learn about college alongside other prospective students from throughout the state and elsewhere.

At the last such event in November, more than 70 students brought their loved ones along for a day of tours, seminars on college life, meetings with faculty members and college-style dining.

Gamble’s team also provides individual visits year-round.

"Individual visits are a great way to see campus. It's as easy as picking time around a holiday or a long weekend. That works really well for families. It's a very personalized experience," he said.

No matter how students choose to visit, Gamble said that each will have a chance to learn about college life in general and the steps required in the college application process – no matter where they wind up going. Visitors will also meet with faculty from their field of interest to learn about courses and careers in that particular field.

“It’s about the experience of finding out what college should be for you. If visitors have a positive experience, a good experience, that's going to stick with them. It gets them to start thinking about not what's easiest, but what's the best option for them,” he said.

And as students in the region start thinking about next fall, Gamble expects to see more and more at his doorstep.

“We welcome anyone who wants to see what we have to offer,” he said.

Want to see campus for yourself? Visit WVU Tech’s visit page for available options.