April 18, 2006
“You can get a completely different perspective on a college if you visit it two or three times.”
~Liz Pyburn, senior, West High School, Sioux City, Iowa.
Liz Pyburn, a senior at West High School in Sioux City, began her college search between her sophomore and junior years of high school. She was looking for specific things in a college.
“I wanted to attend a small, private college that had a psychology major and a soccer team. Also, I didn’t want to go more than six hours from home,” said Pyburn.
She began her college search by sorting through all the college mail she was receiving and using the Internet to find colleges that fit her guidelines. She found the college Web sites more informative than the brochures.
She said, “I could see photos of the campus and view academic and sports pages on their Web sites.”
Soon, Pyburn narrowed down her choices to nine colleges and began visiting the campuses, which included colleges in Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota. By the end of the summer after her junior year at high school, she had visited at least five colleges. She continued her visits this past fall.
“Being on campus gave me a feel for how a college really was,” she said. “I found out how friendly the people were. On a couple of campuses, people just ignored you as you walked by.”
She ended up visiting two colleges more than once. In fact, she visited Morningside College four times and reported, “Every time I came back to Morningside, I enjoyed it. I liked how friendly the students were—they would come up and talk to you. Normally, only faculty and staff would talk to me during campus visits.”
She added, “Morningside was the most thorough of all the colleges. The faculty, staff, and students would call me; the coach would call me at least once a week. I felt like I was wanted at Morningside more than anywhere else.”
Pyburn will be attending Morningside this fall and plans to major in psychology and participate in the pre-law program. She will be on the Mustangs’ women’s soccer team and is interested in participating in Student Government and the college’s Mock Trial team.
She chose Morningside because the college offered the programs she wanted and because of the friendliness of the people, but two other factors also played a major role in her decision. One was that she wanted to study abroad and complete an internship during her college career. When her admissions counselor put her in touch with those departments, she felt that the staff wanted to make sure that she could do everything she wanted and still graduate in four years.
Interaction between faculty and students at the college was also very important. She said, “I took a class at Morningside in 2005, and the professor and her students seemed very close. The relationship between the faculty and students was strong.”
Pyburn is confident in her choice. She would tell students just beginning their college search: “Visit a college more than once. You can get a completely different perspective on a college if you visit it two or three times. I was certain I was going somewhere else besides Morningside, until I visited the campuses again.”
"The people in my community told me that an education at a college with liberal arts would be better because it would be more diverse and not be as specialized as at a university."
~ Josh Rensink, senior, Sioux Center Community School, Sioux Center, Iowa
Josh Rensink of Sioux Center, Iowa, attended college fairs during his junior year of high school, but he waited to make his first campus visits during the 2005 Iowa Private College Week, sponsored each year by the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (IAICU). He visited three colleges during that week, which entitled him to have the application for admission fee waived at any of the 29 participating private colleges or universities.
Morningside was one of the colleges that he toured that week. Before his college search was over, he had visited the college three more times.
“I liked the atmosphere, the small campus, and the business program,” he said. “I also liked that it was 45 minutes from home—I would be away but could go back home whenever I wanted.”
Even so, he had a tough time choosing between Morningside and a large public university in South Dakota.
So, he started talking with people in his community and asking them questions about what to look for in a college or university. He was interested in business or agronomy careers and talked to those who worked in these fields.
He said, “They told me that an education at a college with liberal arts would be better because it would be more diverse and not be as specialized as at a university.”
Then, during a panel discussion at Morningside, one of the professors on the panel started talking about the value of a liberal arts education.
“He said that employers were looking for people with a liberal arts foundation. I felt that it was a very good thing and wanted to be in it,” Rensink said. The liberal arts aspect of Morningside plus the atmosphere sold him on the college.
“I felt at home there,” he said.
Rensink plans to major in business and is interested in Morningside’s intramurals program and playing his bass guitar in a college band.
His advice to students in the middle of a college search is to talk to people who work in your community about preparing for careers. In other words, he said, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
High school students are invited to come visit campus anytime this summer. Watch for information about Iowa Private College Week, held this year Aug. 7-11.
To schedule a campus visit or for more information, call the Morningside College Admissions Office at 712-274-5111.