Gwynedd Mercy University Hosts Prospective Students; Engages Them When ‘Something Happened at Assumption Hall’

students watching demo
Image via Gwynedd Mercy University.
Prospective students at a recent tour of Gwynedd Mercy University certainly found its interactive component to be head and shoulders above what other institutions do.

Gwynedd Mercy University took the traditional college tour for potential attendees — “Here’s the library; there’s a mocked-up dorm room; enjoy a chicken sandwich in our cafeteria” — and turned it into something vastly more engaging at a recent on-campus event.

Its faculty and leadership, including Aimee Huffstetler, MA, AVP for Enrollment, made the session a hands-on, fully experiential, look-under-the-hood day at the Gwynedd Valley institution.

Huffstetler said the day of programming welcomed students interested in one of four of the college’s degree tracks:

  • Nursing
  • Mental Health
  • Criminal Justice/Computer Information Science
  • Marketing and Digital Communications

The focus did not necessarily center on what the college offers academically to students interested in these careers. Rather, it sought to show them firsthand what jobs in these disciplines mean on a daily basis.

Souderton Partnership

“The event came about as a partnership with Souderton Area Senior High School,” Huffstetler explained.

Still feeling the remnants of the COVID-19 disruptions, students asked for career guidance within their own walls. The high school’s administrators then turned to GMercyU, seeking to augment what other local schools were providing as a college tour. 

“[Souderton’s leadership] came to us,” Huffstetler said, “and told us that students were interested learning more about not only what they can learn here but also what they can do professionally with that information when they graduate.

“They needed a way to think about their careers, in a pandemic environment that had shaken previously established support systems.

“So our social work, public health, and psychology folks got together and assembled this program.

“This event is in its essence is a multifaceted way for students to engage with faculty to think about the journey to their careers,” she concluded.

How the Day Unfolded

The 80 students who arrived on campus divided into four units of 20 visitors apiece.

The future nursing students took to the simulation labs; the fledgling digital marketers embarked on a brand campaign for GMercyU sunglasses; and the potential mental health majors got a 360-degree view from psychology, public health, and social work faculty.

The criminal justice investigators, however, rolled their sleeves for something unique.

“They were assigned to solve a murder,” Huffstetler related.

“Assumption Hall is our big, beautiful, historic building in the middle of the campus. And they were told that ‘something’ had happened at Assumption Hall.

“That ‘something’ was a murder.”

The students then split to address the mock-crime both from a legal perspective — with the help of an attorney — and a scientific one, working in a computer lab.

This session stands out to Huffstetler as wholly unique in the local college-visit space. “It’s one of the coolest things we do,” she shared.

Scaling Up

She sees an afternoon like this as being transformative to local students for whom GMercyU has always been a presence but may be considered old school, literally and figuratively.

“We have become the ‘college in the backyard,’” Huffstetler admitted.

“Our goal with a day like this,” she continued, “is to reinvigorate excitement around GMercyU. And allow understanding in what we really offer.”

As an additional takeaway, Huffstetler recommends that high-school students across all districts make their needs known to area colleges and universities.

Especially GMercyU.

“We want to scale it up for anyone who’s interested,” she said. “We have a fantastic framework in place. Started with one idea; moved to another idea. We’re open to that.

“We want students and parents know that if they want to take advantage of something that we’re offering, we can’t wait to welcome them to campus.”

More information on GMercyU’s full catalog of academic lines of study and next editions of its reimagined college tour is at the university’s website.

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