Tech holds annual Preview Day

HOUGHTON – Any good salesman knows that the last contact with a potential customer is vital to completing the transaction. A final test drive, visit inside or trying it on one more time could be what it takes to make the sale.

That’s essentially the idea behind the ninth annual Preview Day at Michigan Technological University. Saturday’s event was aimed at high school students and others who’ve been accepted at Michigan Tech, but have yet to make a final decision.

“Admitted, but not committed.” Les Cook, Tech’s vice president for student affairs said of the several hundred students, most with family members along, who got one last chance to visit the campus and the surrounding area.

Dozens of academic departments, university facilities and student organizations had display booths set up at the Memorial Union Building to let the potential Huskies know what awaits them should they pick Michigan Tech. Each display featured both staff and students on hand to answer questions and make a pitch. The candy, pens, and other swag didn’t hurt either.

Cook said Preview Day has become an important tool in the recruitment process. “We call it ‘close the deal day.’ We get them up here to really give them a good look at what we have to offer.”

Tech President Glenn Mroz felt this spring’s Preview Day was the best attended. “There were about 1,100 seats available for the opening program,” Mroz said. “And nearly all of them were taken.”

Mroz said not only do students and families get a chance to see the campus and university facilities, but they get to check out the community where they’ll, hopefully, spend the next several years.

“Students and parents really get a good feel for the community,” he said. “They’re often impressed with the friendliness they experience just going to a local store, or at a restaurant. Most people aren’t used to that small-town atmosphere.”

It’s that atmosphere that was appealing to high school senior Calvin Zachman of Woodbury, Minn., a Twin Cities suburb.

“I like a small town,” he said. “It’s really nice here, we went up to Copper Harbor and Brockway Mountain. It was great.”

Zachman, who intends to study engineering, wasn’t aware of all the activities and organizations Tech had to offer. He was especially impressed that membership at Mont Ripley was available to students.

“I’m a snowboarder, it was nice to see that,” he said.

The fact the university had its own golf course impressed Billy Horner of Lansing, who is looking to major in mechanical engineering. Golf course general manager Mark Maroste asked Horner if he golfed and he enthusiastically said “Yes.” Maroste then showed him pictures of what the area looks like when the snow leaves. “It’s even nicer then,” Maroste said.

With more than 235 student organizations, Michigan Tech offers students a chance to continue activities they’ve grown up with or to experience something new. In addition to intra-murals and club sports that travel throughout the country for competitions, the university has clubs for varied interests from medieval swordplay to My Little Pony.

Maryann Wilcox is coordinator for registered student organizations. She said one of the nice things about preview day is answering “yes” to most of the questions students ask about organizations.

“We really have something for everyone,” she said. “A young man just came up and asked me if we have a fencing club. He was pretty happy when I said ‘yes we do.'”

But despite the great impression Tech made on Zachman and his family, he wasn’t ready to commit just yet.

“I’m still waiting to hear from a couple other schools,” he said. “But I should have my decision in a few days.”