Jeremy Vreeken – Columnist
Nearly every Friday, anywhere from a handful to an Eckardt-Lounge-full of potential future students descend upon Dordt’s campus. While they are on campus, every effort and accommodation is made for these guests. Extra food is made, fancy nametags are worn, tours are given, campus is cleaned meticulously, the highlights of the college are shown, and everyone is supposed to smile brighter, be friendlier; everything on campus turns into a living, breathing, recruiting brochure.
All this is done to make our little campus look as appealing as possible to anyone who might be trying to decide where to invest all of their money for the next four years. During a campus visit, college shoppers are shown and told about all the best things and the great experiences that can be theirs if the price is right. They are told about this or that state-of-the-art facility, the various opportunities that could be available to them, and the all-powerful Christian worldview they’re supposed to leave this place with.
I understand that on one hand, our school is a business. One major way the college increases its customer base is through these visit days and by making its products, the campus and a Dordt education, seem as attractive as possible. But walking around with the tour groups or siting in on department-specific visits sounds like a tour of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Only the positive sides of things are described, and they are talked about in an uber-excited salesman voice.
Why can’t we be a little more honest about what we show and tell our campus guests? I mean, there are a lot of good things about our campus, but you’ll never hear a tour guide talk about the stink in the air that persists all year, or the nightmare involved with parking, or the fact that there’s hardly anything to do in this town, or that there’s no air conditioning in the guys’ dorms. These things, along with any other flaws or potential deal breakers, are conveniently forgotten or swept under the rug while there are guests on campus.
Shouldn’t potential students and their parents know exactly what they’re getting into? Would it be useful to know the numbers of people who transfer out during and after the first semester—some even due to the Christian pressures on campus?
I don’t have the answers; I just don’t love the amount of shmoozing that happens on our campus every week. It feels hollow and almost deceptive sometimes. Like I said, I attend here, and I do enjoy it most days, but I just want people to know what they’re getting into. Every decision has pros and cons; it’s a little unfair to show just the pros.