High school students across America are busy visiting college and university campuses to help them make their final decision about where to attend school in the fall. Making such a monumental decision can be a “bear,” but at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), an informative program aims to simplify the process.
Held four times in the fall and twice in the spring, Bear Facts Day (named for the school’s mascot) offers prospective students and their parents an opportunity to meet current UCA students, faculty and administration during an exciting campus preview. The day kicks off with a Bear Fair and registration, followed by informational sessions on academic programs, admissions, housing, financial aid, scholarships, and support services. Bear Facts Day concludes tours of the University’s appealing campus, housing and facilities.
“From the time visitors step foot on campus, staff and faculty are standing outside Reynolds Hall shaking everybody’s hand,” said Ron Patterson, director of undergraduate admission. “It’s an exciting time for UCA and prospective students from across Arkansas and surrounding states because we can share with them the experience of being a UCA bear.”
Patterson said visitors can speak directly with faculty members, department chairs, college deans or other university administrators as everyone on campus supports Bear Facts Days. “Our academic sessions speak volumes as parents and prospective students can meet a faculty member from their department,” he said. “It’s the accessibility of our faculty on that day that really makes the difference.”
Between 400-500 students attend each session, making the campus a busy and lively place. One stop on the afternoon tour is the UCA Bookstore, housed in the University’s Student Center.
“We’ve been a part of Bear Facts Day for many years and we really enjoy welcoming students and their parents,” says UCA Bookstore Manager Rick Burton. “We’re a great resource to help these families with questions about textbooks, financial aid – or anything about the campus.”
Burton, who has managed the Barnes & Noble College operated bookstore for 13 years, prepares for each session by fully staffing the store. “Bear Facts Days are some of our busiest,” says Burton. “I always make sure we are fully staffed to handle the crowds. After taking the tour, many of these students come back into the store. Leaving with a UCA sweatshirt, t-shirt or hat makes them feel a part of this university. You can just see what an exciting time this is for them.”
Burton has high praise for UCA and its level of commitment to its students. “I’ve been here for 13 years and it’s been an excellent experience,” he enthuses. “Everyone on campus is involved. You don’t often see that level of engagement — where faculty, students and the administration are willing to meet one-on-one with prospective students. It’s just a wonderful community here – and very rewarding to be a part of this great university.”