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By Nick Ironside and Andrew Blom

The work never stops for the Curry admissions staff.

Year in and year out, the college faces tremendous
competitive challenges. Curry is a small, non-selective
liberal arts college located in New England, making it the
most common type of school in the area. Moreover, the
vast majority of traditional undergraduates here (about
67 percent) are from high schools in Massachusetts,
meaning the admissions staff is often working to recruit
from a limited pool of students.
If all that wasnt hard enough, approximately 35
percent of Curry freshmen dont return to the college for
a second year. That`s a signifcant loss oI student tuition
and money from housing and fees. Plus, transfer students
dont come close to making up the difference, according
to the college.
As a result, we recruit 12 months out of the year,
said Dean of Admissions Jane Fidler.
Part of the recruitment effort
includes two open houses each
fall, in October and November.
Thousands of mostly high
school students and their
families come to campus to see
what the college has to offer.
We have found that once
we are able to get prospective
students on campus, those
students enroll at a much higher
rate than students who never
visit the campus, said Fidler.
This fall, 934 students visited
Curry during the two open
houses; 514 in October and
420 in November. But those
numbers tell only a small part
of the story. In a typical year,
approximately 5,500 students
apply to the college, and about
69 percent are accepted, according to Fidler. Of those,
around 700 students enroll.
Curry goes all-out to impress during its open houses.
Faculty were required to attend at least one of the events,
to talk with prospective students; the student-run radio
station, WMLN, broadcasted live outside of the Student
Center; the college brought in Fenway Park tour buses
to transport students and their family across campus;
free food and iced frappuccinos were widely available;
and new fowers and Iresh mulch highlighted the scenic
beauty of Currys wooded campus.
This feels real, said Omolara Oshodi, a senior
at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Boston, during the
November open house.
Senior communication major Mark Alexander said his
experience touring Curry more or less mirrored what the
college actually provides. Were the real deal, he said,
adding that he also looked at Wheaton and Johnson and
Wales. We give our best.
When Alexander was a high school senior touring
Curry, he was talking to a communication professor
when President Ken Quigley came up and joined the
conversation. The last colleges didnt have that, he
adds. Thats what sold me!
For open houses, Currys Student Center gymnasium
is transformed into an academic fair, with each
department hosting tables flled with inIormation and
generally smiling professors. However, the academic
fair atmosphere had a downside. Fidler said a few
students were unhappy with the crowded gym because
they were unable to have meaningful one-on-one
conversations with faculty. Its virtually impossible
to have a conversation with every family and student,
which is what Id like to do, said Fidler.
To reach out to each student on an individual level,
Curry began offering breakout sessions, where
prospective students could go to smaller, topic-specifc
group sessions during the open houses. In November,
there were breakout sessions for individual majors as
well as Ior PAL and fnancial aid. Curry recently added
study abroad and career services sessions, too.
Caitlin Connall, a senior at the Baltimore (Md.) Lab
School, visited Curry with her dad, Desmond. She said
she was impressed with the college and preferred Currys
small class sizes, particularly compared to some of the
other schools shes looking at, such as Boston College and
Boston University. I dont want to be the 32
person in
the back row, waving help me!` Connall said.
Although the Curry admissions staff attends
college fairs throughout the year to reach potentially
interested students, an increasing number of students
are discovering Curry on their own. Fidler said the
majority of students at this years open houses found
out about the events by visiting Currys Web site, as
opposed to being recruited at their high schools or
hearing from friends.
Ultimately, however, the success of the open houses
will be determined by the number of students who apply
for admissions to the college. In the spring semester,
Curry holds special open house events for students who
were accepted, with the goal of closing the deal. Thats
not easy for a variety of reasons, including the high
number of colleges Curry competes with. Among public
colleges, the list includes UMass-Dartmouth, UMass-
Amherst and Bridgewater State. Among private schools,
Endicott College (Beverly, Mass.), Regis College
(Waltham, Mass.) and Lasell College (Newton, Mass.)
are among Currys many competitors.
If a student wants to be in a city, were not a city,
said Fidler. Theres nothing we can really do about
Similarly, theres little the admissions department can
do about the cost of a Curry education: $46,005 for a
campus resident, including fees. If a student chooses
to be in PAL, its an additional $6,550. Although
approximately 70 percent of Curry students receive
some Iorm oI fnancial assistance, Fidler said she hopes
students look at the quality of academic programs instead
of focusing on the price.
Not everyone at the November open house was sold.
The college didnt have that wow factor, and the
tuition is a lot more than other schools, said David
Thibodeau, who visited Curry in November with his
daughter, Kaitlin, and wife, Susan. For that much
money, we wanted more. When I walked into the library,
I wasnt sure it was even a library!
For now, Fidler and her staff are eagerly awaiting
admissions applications. According to a survey Curry
conducted following the October open house, 95 percent
of respondents said they were now more likely to apply
for admission.
Fidler beamed while talking about that survey. Those
are some good numbers!
as they gathered information and talked to faculty about Currys various programs.
In Search of Students
Currys admissions staff works year-round to recuit
applicants; 934 students attend fall open houses
It didnt have that wow factor, and the
tuition is a lot more than other schools....
When I walked into the library, I wasnt
sure it was even a library!
David ibodeau

Kaitlin Thibodeau, of Hartford, Conn., with parents
David and Susan.
John Belcher, left, of Belmont, Mass., and Connor Trulli, of
North Reading, Mass.
On wishing that Curry had fraternities:
Studying is good, but you want to mix it up.
Connor Trulli
Christopher Perkins, of Mattapan, Mass.
My mom said it was a good school, but I
didnt believe her until now. Ten out of ten!
Christopher Perkins
Caitlin Connall, of Columbia, Md., with father Desmond.
On liking the low student-to-faculty ratio at Curry,
compared to other schools, such as BC and BU:
I dont want to be the 32nd person in the
back row waving, help me!
Caitlin Connall