University finds success with open house sessions

Prospective students get preview of URI campus

Held in the Welcome Center, URI’s annual open house welcomes many prospective students. PHOTO CREDIT: Maddie Bataille | Photo Editor

The University of Rhode Island has traditionally held “Open House,” every fall where potential students, typically seniors in high school, can connect with professors, different major departments and other resources.

Rachel Littlefield, the coordinator of URI’s Welcome Center, said that this event is more than just a typical tour of the campus. Even though, tours are still held during this event.

“Each year we tour around 20,000 throughout the full year, but [Open House] gives them an extra look at URI,” Littlefield said. “We have the traditional campus tour, but also during the event President Parlange gives a welcome address.”

Littlefield goes on to explain that potential students can also go inside these buildings where each respective department resides in order to get a real sense of what the next four years of academic studies could look like. 

“There’s also an extra component of what we call the ‘support service fair,’” Littlefield said. “So in the Ram’s Den, we had about 22 different departments from dining, health services, housing, Greek life, club sports, varsity sports and admissions for visitors to walk around and connect with.”

This event is one of the only times where students looking to make a home at URI can discuss living on campus with the housing department, how the meal plan works at the University and find financial support from the admissions department. 

This year the Open House was held on Sunday Oct. 2 and Saturday Oct. 22, with a total of 3,200 visitors between both days. Despite not being able to hold this event during the peak of COVID-19, Littlefield has not seen a major difference in the turnout of visitors prior to COVID-19 and after. 

The Open House is typically the same each year in regards to structure, but Littlefield, who plans the entire event and has done so for the past seven years, mentions that they do enjoy switching which buildings visitors can enter to meet faculty and different departments here at URI. 

“For example, arts and sciences used to be in the Ram’s Den and we actually put them in Beaupre Center for Chemical & Forensic Sciences this year because we wanted to highlight that building and have them see the academic spaces for a lot of the arts and sciences programs,” Littlefield said.

Thus, the Open House gives visitors a snapshot of what life at URI may look like in almost every aspect. However, potential students and their families get to really understand life at the University from students themselves.

Peyton Thiel, a fourth-year student majoring in data science, became a tour guide in his first year at URI. He said that the community he has discovered in tour guiding has been one of the best experiences he has had in college.

“Open House is a great experience that allows tour guides to show visitors around campus, but also have meaningful conversations with prospective students about the school,” Thiel said. “Our day usually consists of talking, directing and answering questions of many families that come to see the campus.”

Thiel also explains that being a tour guide does not entail giving facts and numbers about the University, but to also see if these students see themselves here and building connections with people they would have otherwise never met. 

“Usually, the number one thing I like to tell visiting students is that no matter where they end up, and hopefully it’s URI, they will find a place that feels like home,” Thiel said.