Time to be a Tiger
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
The looks on students' faces were similar to the contrast of a Tiger's stripes. Some appeared anxious Monday in Fort Hays State University's Memorial Union. Others looked perfectly comfortable.
Ditto for their parents at the Tiger STRIPES pre-enrollment session, the fourth of five events for incoming freshmen this spring and summer, in preparation for the 2014 fall semester.
Part of the role in what Fort Hays has dubbed FYE, short for first-year experience, was to give a lot of FYIs to future Tigers.
William Amen from Longmont, Colo., took it all in stride as he stood in line waiting to get his Tiger ID card.
On this day, he split allegiance, wearing a Colorado Rockies T-shirt with a black and gold Fort Hays cap on his head.
But Amen, a standout pitcher who helped his high school team place third in state this spring, soon will be wearing the black and gold of the Fort Hays baseball team.
Amen had narrowed his college choices to three -- FHSU and two NAIA schools in Nebraska -- until he visited the Fort Hays campus.
"I was blown away by their athletic facilities," he said of Fort Hays, pointing out the year-old Schmidt-Bickle Indoor Training Facility. "And this was the best campus I've seen."
He will get no argument from Michaela Sasse, a junior from Gaylord acting as one of the members of the Tiger STRIPES pre-enrollment orientation team.
"I love Fort Hays," said Sasse, a biology major in the pre-optometry track. "I toured the KU campus when I was a senior (in high school), and it was so big. Here, everyone seems so friendly, and my professors love spending time with students."
Sasse obviously was a good choice for the 30-some member orientation team, out of the 70-some students who applied.
"I like helping students get adjusted to campus," she said. "We take them away from their parents instantly (at the pre-enrollment sessions), and we want to give them a good experience here."
Some parents have done this before. For others, it was their first time as they accompanied their oldest child to campus.
"It's far enough away but not too far," said Denise Homer, Clay Center. She is the mother of Megan Carlson, who will begin studying in FHSU's nursing program in August.
Troy Nodine, also from Clay Center, said he had been "set on K-State," just 40 miles away in Manhattan. Hays is nearly four times that distance from Clay Center.
"But you can't beat the cost here," he said. "And everyone is so friendly."
So he changed his mind.
"There's no comparison as far as affordability," Homer said.
Several other students from Clay Center must feel the same way. Eight more of Nodine's and Carlson's classmates, out of a class of 78, also will be Fort Hays students this fall.
"The main pick (of colleges) in that area usually are K-State or Cloud County," Homer said. "I'm glad (her daughter) is coming here. I really like what I see so far."
Each of the FHSU pre-enrollment sessions from April through June caps out at 200 students.
This year, Brett Bruner, the persistence and retention director in the student affairs office, decided to give pre-enrollment the name of Tiger STRIPES "to start building some institutional affiliation and school pride," he said.
In addition to orientations for the future students and their parents, there was a Browsing Fair with numerous campus and community booths, "to get them some exposure to the community of Hays," and even a "Future Tiger" program for younger siblings.
Bill and Gail Cathcart from Oberlin sat in some easy chairs in the basement of the union, relaxing and watching their younger daughter also participate in the day's activities.
While their son, Baron Green, was busy enrolling, his younger sister, 15-year-old Emma Green, was coloring older brother a picture of a tiger.
Bruner deemed it a successful day.