CPW 2012: Community Comes Together to Welcome Admitted Students

Kris Guay, Communications Manager, Admissions

The Admissions office and the entire MIT community welcomed 1135 prefrosh and 920 parents for Campus Preview Weekend (CPW) on Thursday, April 19 through Sunday, April 22. For three and half jam-packed days the campus was alive with activity and bright with sunshine on what turned out to be one of the nicest spring weather weekends in years.

“CPW is arguably the best admitted student weekend for many reasons,” said Lauren Avalos, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions and CPW Coordinator. “But what really sets it apart is the community spirit that comes from our entire campus of student, faculty and staff volunteers.”

CPW 2012 Collage


A Firehose of Fun

The fun started the moment that prefrosh were welcomed by Admissions counselors and other volunteers at the airport and continued throughout the weekend until checkout in La Sala de Puerto Rico in the Student Center on Sunday morning.

Over 650 events are planned all year to give prefrosh a taste of the around-the-clock “firehose experience” that is MIT. Some of the highlights this year included the ever-popular Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream event that was offered by the CryoFAC club outside of the Zesiger Center. A long line of exuberant prefrosh inched their way up to the tables to grab their cup of ice cream and toppings on Thursday afternoon from MIT undergrads suited up in yellow hazmat suits dancing among the haze of the nitrogen fog.

The Prefrosh Welcome, also on Thursday and hosted by Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill, is another popular staple event each year; it's the first time all of the prospective '16s can be together, in one place!

In addition to the food, fun and festivities, CPW was also a chance for prefrosh and parents to learn about the many programs and services at MIT that they may not have known about. Added this year was a panel discussion hosted by UAAP for their newly launched First Generation Project (FGP), which is committed to building a sense of community among first generation MIT students, faculty, and staff, and raising awareness of their unique experiences. Nearly 800 first generation students represent roughly 16% of the MIT student body at MIT.

“I’ve been working in Admissions for more than a decade,” said Matt McGann ’00, Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Recruitment, a first generation student himself and a participant on the panel, “and I can tell you that you were not admitted by mistake, or by some quota or charity. I want you to know, that you are all awesome.”

A Home Away from Home

While prefrosh hung out with their student hosts and new friends trying out classes and UROP tours, parents had their own activities to attend. In fact, over 125 activities were planned just for them including the Parents’ Welcome with Chancellor Eric Grimson, Stu Schmill, Dean of Admissions and Professor Alex Slocum.

Addressing a packed room of parents in 26-100, Dean Schmill spoke to how MIT has changed over the years. “Although the density of students who are super engaged remains the same, there is now more diversity of interests, talents and backgrounds in the student body that make the learning at MIT that much richer. There has never been a better time to be an MIT student,” he said.

And President Susan Hockfield, who has recently announced she will be stepping down as MIT’s President, remarked at the President’s Welcome on Friday morning in Kresge Auditorium, “With pangs of regret, I will miss the momentum of MIT.”

Other popular events included The Minority Family Reception sponsored jointly by the OME and the Admissions office, The Minority Women’s Brunch and the Minority Student Barbecue both held on Saturday, and The Student Financial Services Open House that was held on all three days from 9-5 each day.

“The entire SFS staff was on hand and we saw 475 people over the three days,” said Susan Sullivan, Senior Associate Director in Student Financial Services. “Families were very appreciative that we were able to answer many of their financing questions and concerns.”

And despite the gorgeous weather, which enticed many parents to enjoy the sights and restaurants around Cambridge and Boston over the weekend, those who stayed on campus to attend the events expressed their delight to Admissions officers.

“Are all American colleges like this?” asked a father of a prefrosh who travelled all the way from France to attend the weekend and participate in the dorm tours while his son was out with his new friends exploring the campus. “There is so much to do this weekend. I am very impressed,” he said.

During the closing reception Under the Great Dome for Parents and Families admissions officers and volunteers had one more chance to talk to parents about their impressions from the weekend. “I talked to parents all night,” said Kim Hunter, Associate Director of Admissions and Director of the Education Council. “A couple of parents came up to me to tell me how happy they were that they came this weekend and that they knew their daughter had found a real home away from home. That really touched me.”

Setting the Bar

MIT releases admissions decisions earlier than peer institutions and as a result the Admissions office usually sets the bar as the first to host their admitted student program following the first full week of April.

But this year, Easter, Passover and Patriots Day fell at the start of the month, leaving schools across the country with only two weekends in April to hold their programs. As a result, CPW 2012 overlapped with Penn, Dartmouth, Princeton and Harvard's weekend programs, with some students coming directly to MIT from Yale and Brown's Monday-Wednesday programs. “We didn’t know what to expect this year, but the number of prefrosh who mentioned their plans to enroll at MIT is the most I've seen in the four CPW programs I've coordinated,” said Avalos.

The feedback received during CPW and the feedback the office continues to receive through the follow-up survey consistently shows prefrosh, as well as their parents, had highly positive experiences despite the timing of this year’s program. "Our thanks go out to the entire MIT community, with special appreciation to our DUE colleagues in GECD, OME, OEL, the Office of the Registrar, SFS, and UAAP, who spent extra time and care to make CPW an unforgettable experience for our new students and their families," said Avalos.