By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Kate Little sounds a lot like Goldilocks when discussing her college preferences.
The Omaha native is looking for a smaller campus where it’s easy to meet new people, but it also needs to be large enough to offer the extracurricular activities that enhance college life.
She doesn’t want to be too far from home – or too close either – and she’d prefer a school that’s strong in both academics and athletics.
Little’s search for that ideal institution brought her to the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she toured campus Wednesday with her mother Ann.
“I’m the type of person who needs to be here and be able to talk to people,” Little said, emphasizing the importance of campus visits during the selection process.
A senior at Roncalli Catholic High School, Little’s focus is on finding a college where she feels comfortable, a place where she can see herself excelling over the next four years. She also met with UNK swimming coach Becky O’Connell to discuss the possibility of competing in that sport at the collegiate level.
“I’m definitely interested in that if I come here,” Little said.
Students from 10 other Nebraska communities, as well as Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Dubuque, Iowa, were also on campus Wednesday to check out UNK, which resumed in-person visits this week.
Jael Johnson, assistant director for UNK’s campus visit programs, said COVID-19 restrictions gave families more time to discuss their future plans and college priorities. Now, they’re ready to take action.
“A lot of students and their families are eager to start their college search. They’re ready to get on campus to see if that’s where they want to take that next step,” Johnson said.
UNK, which already has campus visits scheduled into November, made several adjustments this semester to ensure the experience remains a safe and enjoyable one.
Visiting students are limited to two guests, and each family will receive a one-on-one tour with a campus visit assistant. This format promotes social distancing and allows guides to focus on a student’s individual interests.
It also creates flexibility for students who want to learn more about a specific major, academic department or UNK program. Visitors can schedule a face-to-face meeting with faculty, staff and student ambassadors, or set up a time to talk remotely.
“You’re making a big investment in yourself and your future, and you’re trying to find that place that will be the best fit for you personally and academically. You should have the opportunity to really check it out for yourself and do so at your own comfort level,” Johnson said.
Residence halls are currently the only buildings excluded from campus tours, but that will change once UNK advances to Phase 2 of its fall operating plan and guests are allowed inside campus housing.
Campus tours are available at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 and 11:30 a.m. Fridays. Guests and staff are required to wear face masks, and visitors are asked to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms before coming to campus.
Each tour is led by one of 29 campus visit assistants – UNK students who share their campus knowledge, success stories and Loper pride with families.
UNK also offers a remote campus visit experience for any prospective student. Added last summer, this option includes a live Zoom webinar and YouVisit virtual tour. It’s available at 11:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays.
“The remote experience is an excellent way to connect with people living in another state or country by bringing our campus to them,” Johnson said. “We have so much great technology and it’s important for us to utilize that to recruit our next students.”