Michael Pelster
UNK assistant director of Undergraduate Recruitment, 308.865.8435

As high school seniors inch closer to graduation, college plans can become a stressful and confusing task. Yet, some students were able to find an antidote to these worries at Senior Day, held recently at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Michael Pelster, UNK Admissions counselor, said students from 94 different high schools across the state attended Senior Day. Approximately 500 students and parents attended the event.

According to UNK Admissions counselor Klint Holscher, Senior Day is an annual event that invites high school seniors and their families onto campus to receive information that may be beneficial in making college decisions.

“They get exposed to a lot of different factors that kind of make up college decision choices,” Holscher said. “So, they hear about financial aid. They hear about the residence halls.”

Leah Hahne, a senior from Norfolk , and her mother Rebecca, said Senior Day was their first college visit, and they were using the day to acquire information about UNK to compare with other institutions.

In the Ponderosa Room, students and family members followed the Hahne’s example by collecting information by talking with UNK professors from the various departments on campus. Holscher said representatives from athletics and student organizations were also present to answer student questions.

Tim Callahan, a graduate assistant in the UNK athletic department, said Senior Day allowed those students interested in participating in collegiate athletics to get a foot-in-the-door with UNK coaches.

Dr. Deborah Bridges, associate professor of economics, said students at Senior Day can get a sense of what types of classes they will be taking from faculty members.

“I think that actually getting to talk to a faculty member is really important for the students, because it gives them a face to recognize,” Dr. Bridges said. “They get a sense of the types of classes and the breadth of classes that they will take if they major in that subject.”

Dr. Mark Markes, associate professor of physics and physical science, said his purpose at the fair was to explain how, in the physics and pre-engineering field, it is an advantage to start at a four-year institution such as UNK. He said he was giving potential physics majors an idea of what types of jobs they would be able to pursue after earning a physics degree.

Dr. Markes also said the personal interaction students received during Senior Day should encourage them to pursue advanced degrees.

“I remember when I first talked to my adviser when I started college, and I was very impressed with the idea that I got to talk to a real Ph.D. I was surprised that he was pretty much like a normal person. And it’s kind of good for students to realize that we’re just normal people too, and if we can do it,  they can do it,” Dr. Markes said.

Anthony Diers, a senior from Lincoln , said Senior Day gave him a better idea of what college life at UNK would be.

“I visited here during the summer when school wasn’t going on and this Senior Day has influenced me to place [UNK] at the top of my list, because there are now students going around to classes, and I can see what student life is like on campus,” Diers said.

Diers’ older sister and Nebraska Wesleyan student Jessica, said Senior Day gives students a critical insight into college life.

“I think that coming and visiting a campus, and actually interacting with the students and the professors and faculty on campus gives you a completely different perspective of what really happens on a campus instead of just hearing about or reading about it in some sort of pamphlet,” Diers said.

Nolan Porter, a senior from Gibbon , agreed with Diers’ notion that first-hand interaction with the campus is critical in making an informed decision.

“I don’t have much of an idea of what college is going to be like, so coming here has really helped a lot for me personally,” Porter said.

Holscher said Senior Day provides seniors with a general idea of what campus life and academics are at UNK. He also said that while the event is planned by UNK Admissions, representatives from across the campus including Financial Aid and department faculty are also involved.

“We are very fortunate on this campus to have the support of faculty members, departments and colleges,” Holscher said.