K-State campus construction provides sense of growth, possibility to prospective students

Lindsey Hamner and Camille Gatapia, seniors at Mill Valley High School in Shawnee, KS, walk past construction on the east side of Memorial Stadium during Scholarship Day on Friday, February 19. 2016. (Clayton Kistner | The Collegian)

Emily Lehning, director of New Student Services, said visitation routes were altered to work with construction zones, ensuring safety and allaying any concerns prospective students might have.

Campus appearance influences the decision of around 80 percent of prospective students, according to a study titled “Campus Landscaping: Impact on Recruitment and Retention” presented by Phillip Waite in a webinar broadcast by the Society for College and University Planning.

“The construction didn’t affect my visit much at all,” Owen Korschgen, high school senior from Wichita, Kansas, said. “It was a little noisy at one point, but nothing major. If anything, the construction on the (K-State) Student Union showed me the university is putting its money into projects that will affect the students positively.”

Lehning said working with construction began in May 2015 during summer orientation and enrollment.

“We had several meetings and lots of email exchanges about when certain parts of campus might close or if they were aware of any city construction that might impact people’s route on the way into campus,” Lehning said. “Then we were able to draft some language that we sent out in advance through email for that confirmation to let people know to plan a little extra time.”

Abby Weigand, freshman in interior design, began her K-State education this semester after graduating high school in the fall. She said her visiting experience was the same as it would have been had there not been any construction, and a large part of her decision to attend K-State was that everyone was so nice.

“I thought (the construction) was actually pretty cool because at the Senior Day the tour guide showed us what it was going to be like, and I think everyone was really impressed by it,” Weigand said. “It shows that the college is moving forward.”

Lehning said New Student Services asked everyone in the colleges and departments involved with the tours to be mindful as they were helping students and families, to look out for people who looked confused or lost and after finising a session to make sure everyone knew their way to the next location.

“What I love is that when I hear Dr. Bosco speak and kick off the events, he talks a lot about progress,” Lehning said. “He talks about how (the construction) was a student referendum — students wanted to revamp their Union — so he really makes it a lot about the possibility and what’s ahead.”

Korschgen said that although the Union construction limited his meal options during the visit, the construction did not negatively affect his opinion of K-State.

Weigand said the construction was a little noisy, but other than that, her visit was fun.

“It was kind of cool to be able to see what (the university) had in store,” Weigand said.

Lehning said being extra sensitive to people who might find campus confusing due to closed sidewalks or similar blockages contributed to the positive experience many visitors are having, and one of the “beauties” of being a prospective student is seeing the improvements around campus.

“Chances are when you come back, whatever you’re experiencing now will probably have been moved forward on the timeline, and it’s one step closer to being that thing that you see on the picture, giving the vision of what’s ahead,” Lehning said.