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Importance of hosting prospective students

Back in January, I had a strong feeling of déjà vu when 166 prospective Mills College students visited campus for a taste of the student experience during Scholars in Action, the Undergraduate Admissions Office’s annual overnight visit program. I’d signed up to be a hostess for the event, so two “prospies” were entrusted to my care. I took them to dinner and the Mills Got Talent show, let them sleep on the floor of my dorm room and saw them off to their other activities after breakfast the next morning.

This weekend, prospies who didn’t get a chance to visit in January (and some who did) will be coming to campus for Admitted Student Preview Day. This visit could be the deciding factor for those who haven’t already committed to joining Mills’ Class of 2014. I have every intention of putting my name down to host two more students for that event. Not only does having their own hostess make these women feel more welcomed and less intimidated, but being their friend and guide is incredibly rewarding for me as well.

Rewind back to about this time last year, my junior year. Scholars in Action 2009 was the first time I ever volunteered to be a hostess. Up until that point, I’d always chickened out — I was scared that I wouldn’t do a good enough job telling my prospies why they should come to Mills, scared that they wouldn’t like me, scared that I didn’t have what it takes to make a difference to these women. I feared I would let them down. However, when I finally plucked up the courage to welcome my first two prospies into my world, I realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The women who come to visit Mills don’t want a hostess to put on a show or cater to their every whim. They just want someone to show them that Mills students are happy to be here — that if they choose to join the Mills community, they will be accepted and encouraged to pursue their own big dreams. All they want is a hostess who will be honest and real with them, who will show them that Mills really can make a huge difference in their lives if they choose to give it the chance.

I also came to understand that by playing hostess to future Mills students, I am repaying the favor that was done for me five years ago when I was in their shoes. The first time I visited Mills, I was terrified, overwhelmed, intimidated and afraid I’d never fit in anywhere but home. The Mills students I met on that visit proved to me this institution offers more than just an education — it offers a community of sisters, something I’d never had before. Visiting Mills sealed my decision to attend the College, and the best part is that my experience has now come full-circle as four of the five students I hosted last year are here as well, and they are thriving and absolutely loving it!

I’ve come a long way since that first visit to Mills back in 2005. I’m now about to graduate and the prospies I host at this weekend’s visit day will be my last. But I urge all of you to consider taking the time to make a prospective student or two feel like they can call Mills home. A night with you could be the reason a high school senior chooses to come to Mills, and what are we doing here if we don’t make even the smallest investment in our little sisters?