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“Your courses, the level of those courses, and the grades you get--those are the three main ingredients. It’s not required, but more than 90 percent of our applicants do submit essays and letters of recommendation. We will go over everything you send us. “The admissions counselors will consider your SATs, but your performance over your three and a quarter years here is what’s important. So senior year is not the time to back off.” Learning that some of these students work 25-plus hours a week gives Briggs an opening to make a point: “I don’t think you’re going to able to do that in college. Your priority is going to be your schoolwork. Make no mistake about that.” This group, Briggs said later, is “as typical as it gets. Typical students, typical questions. Attentive. They’re always very polite.” As Briggs leaves, Bourne guidance counselor Ed McCarthy volunteers that, “Steve’s always available to give advice or answer questions. It’s pretty unusual to be able to interact directly with the head of admissions” at a university. Such visibility for the admissions recruiters remains an important component of the strategy Briggs developed when he came to UMass Dartmouth from the University of New Haven. “I felt we had to stabilize our presence in Massachusetts and then through New England. We would do a lot on the road to get our name out there.” The department increased contact with students and educators in a variety of ways: frequent, informational mailings to guidance counselors; evening meetings with high school juniors, open houses, college “Discovery Days” and summer “Dog Days” for students and parents; a College Fair that brings upwards of 2,000 visitors to campus each fall; high-quality publications and an attractive, instructive web site; and plenty of campus tours, guided by students and always welcomed by an admissions counselor. “Everything is geared to having the student ask: ‘Can I picture myself here a year from today?’ and having them say ‘yes,’”

Briggs said. Briggs knows that can’t always happen. At Mashpee High School, his second stop of the day, one girl said she’s considering four different schools. “I applaud every student who looks around,” Briggs responded. “Then when you do choose us, we know you’re really comfortable with your decision.” Mashpee students are more chatty than those at Bourne, and one poses what Briggs describes as the number one question. “Can I have a car on campus?” That freshman can bring cars is a selling point, but Briggs does not encourage it. “To be honest, I feel that freshmen have a lot of homework and a lot of distractions. Leave the car at home.” That kind of candor runs through Briggs’ entire presentation. When one student asked about a physical education major, Briggs, without hesitation, answered “We really don’t offer that.” He came back strong after a query on marine biology courses. “We’re doing some really cool things,” said Briggs as he described—in detail--faculty research initiatives and School for Marine Science and Technology. For a girl who plans to study civil engineering, Briggs discussed the College of Engineering’s hands-on, real-world approach. “That’s the kind of experience we want you to get.” Last year, 94 percent of Mashpee’s 129 seniors went on to college, six of them to UMass Dartmouth. (No other college or university drew as many students.) “Chelmsford, Franklin, Dartmouth, the towns of Old Rochester Regional High. . . those are the typical communities that refer students to us.” Briggs said. “UMass Dartmouth is here to serve the people of the Commonwealth and this campus does that very well.” The campus itself becomes the recruitment venue several times a year during “portfolio day” when prospective arts majors individually meet with professors. Admissions counselors say

“Everything is geared

to having the student ask:

‘Can I picture myself here a year from

today?’ and

having them say ‘yes.’”

(Continued on page 10) Director of Admissions Steve Briggs and his staff spend many fall days on the road, talking up the university before groups of high school seniors.

A l u m n i

M a g a z i n e


Spring 2006

Umass Dartmouth Spring 06 magazine  

A magazine for Alumni & Friends of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth