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Seeing is believing

On Saturday, Case hosted its annual Saturday Sampler, our gala spring open house. We had about 300 students registered for the program. Roughly two thirds were admitted students looking to make their final decisions, and the remaining third were underclassmen just getting started on the process. It was a high-energy day, and thankfully--no snow/rain/sleet/flying housepets.

Saturday Sampler is especially meaningful for me. Not only was this my 10th Sampler as a member of the admission staff (Sadly, Liz, our admission director, did not greet me with something made of tin or aluminum,) but when I was an admitted senior looking at colleges, it was my visit during Saturday Sampler that helped make up my mind, and sealed the deal for Case.

In all truthfulness, however, "seal the deal" doesn't quite capture what happened for me during my visit. See, I actually never thought I'd end up at Case. I went to high school in a small town in northern Michigan, and I was convinced that I was going to attend the University of Michigan. Of course, it's an excellent school, with state tuition, why wouldn't I? Plus my girlfriend at the time had it all mapped out--how I'd go there, then she'd go there a year later, yada yada yada. Mind you, I had my doubts about this plan, not to mention this girlfriend, but despite that I figured Michigan was a big enough school that it wouldn't matter so much.

I applied to Case because a) it came up in a search of colleges that had what i was looking for, and B) because there was no application fee. But honestly, I knew very little about the school. So when the admission letter came, along with financial aid info and an invitation to visit for Sampler, I tossed the whole kit and caboodle into the trash.

To my horror, my mom fished all the paperwork out of my bedroom garbage can and signed me up for Sampler. Her point was that I should just give it a shot, that it was only one weekend out of my life, and if I hated it, I could still go to Michigan, no biggie. So, reluctantly, we piled in the family truckster and headed for Cleveland. We got there late on a Friday night... In an unfamiliar city... At a college that has sort of a rough neighborhood nearby... And at that point even my ever-optimistic mom thought that maybe we had made a mistake.

But the next morning, it was literally night-and-day. The sun came out, the grass was green, the program was good, and I got to meet the track coach, the legendary Bill Sudeck. Suddenly the landscape of the next four--and more--years of my life started to look quite a bit different...

I won't bore with the rest of the details, but the moral of the story is this: the visit is key, whether you're like one of those underclassmen who's just getting the lay of the land, or if you're a senior wracking your brain to make up your mind. It might seem easy to just make the choice, if for no other reason than that you've simply had enough of people asking where you're going to college, and you just want a solid answer to give them so they'll quit bothering you. But you owe it to yourself to truly consider all options, even if that means giving up a couple days of school or a cherished weekend.

And if you missed Sampler, there's still lots of Experience Case days!

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