May 1st is Decision Day for College Students
MOUNT OLIVE-May 1st has long been known as “Decision Day” in the world of traditional higher education. It is a national day of celebration for students who have decided on their college or university of choice. For many colleges and universities, it signals the deadline for students to pay enrollment deposits and commit to fall enrollment.
Like so many things, this year’s Decision Day will have a different look because of COVID-19. Since students will not be able to participate in activities at their schools, the University of Mount Olive has mailed graduation cap toppers to all students who have paid their deposits in the days leading up to May 1st. “We are encouraging students to pose with their UMO gear and submit videos explaining why they are choosing to attend UMO,” said Associate Director of Admissions Nicole Balsamello. “We will repost some of those submissions on our UMO social media platforms to celebrate virtually with students.”
According to Balsamello, applications, acceptances, and deposits are all up at the University of Mount Olive in comparison to this time last year. “We look forward to enrolling another great class this fall,” she shared.
Although the UMO’s Admissions team is working remotely as a result of COVID-19, Balsamello said, “We have tried to maintain the normalcy of our admissions process as much as possible. With the exception of campus visits, our team is still able to provide the same resources for students and families that we do from our campus offices.”
Balsamello noted that the UMO mobile app and new virtual tour give prospective students much of the same information they would receive during an in-person campus visit. “We believe that this, in conjunction with our admissions staff being available, will allow students to see the beauty of campus while also having their questions about our programs, facilities, and the admissions process answered,” she said.
As for next year’s freshmen who that have not made their college decisions, Balsamello has some advice. “I would encourage students to consider the top two or three most important things on their wish list. Then, make sure that the University they choose meets or exceeds their expectations in those areas.”
Admissions Representative Rachel Moore indicated that deciding factors often come down to things like available majors, faculty to student ratio, location, overall cost, and athletic options. “We hope and believe that UMO exceeds expectations in most of these cases, but it is important that the students and their families feel that as well,” Moore said.
While UMO has many out-of-state and international students, about 70% of its traditional students hail from North Carolina. “Local is a great option for many students because it allows them opportunities to learn, work, and give back to their own communities,” said Vice President for Enrollment Tim Woodard. “Students can take advantage of the strong relationships the University has with people from across eastern NC.”
For many students, the option to commute from home also makes their dream of attending college even more affordable. “Students who may have counted themselves out from attending a university, now have the option to receive a great education that fits their budget,” Woodard added.
According to Marketing Director Jennifer Merritt, two of UMO’s biggest selling points for traditional students are size and affordability. “Students who are overwhelmed by larger institutions feel at home here at UMO,” she said. “They can see firsthand that faculty and staff interact closely with our students. In fact, by the time a student enrolls at UMO, he or she has likely already had multiple opportunities to connect with our faculty either at one of our Open House events, through e-mail, or even during an in person meeting on a campus tour.”
“Making education affordable for our students is one of our top priorities,” added Director of Financial Aid Katrina Lee. “The personalized attention we provide is something our students tell us repeatedly makes a difference in their decision.”
Lee notes that one of the most important issues facing many students and families during the COVID-19 crisis is how are they going to pay for college. “Our Admissions and Financial Aid Representatives are working with each student on an individual basis to make sure they have their financial aid and all scholarship forms completed,” Lee said. “The University of Mount Olive is known for our value and affordability, and now more than ever it is crucial we demonstrate this to all of our current and new UMO students.”
While UMO’s incoming freshmen will celebrate Decision Day 2020 from the comfort of their homes, the day will still be a momentous occasion filled with hope and promise for the days ahead. “May 1st really starts the next chapter of the admissions process for our students and allows us to continue to grow our relationships with them and make sure they feel welcomed and prepared as a new member of the Trojan Family,” concluded Balsamello. “This year we are just doing that in new ways.”
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has education service centers in Mount Olive, Jacksonville, New Bern, Research Triangle Park, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Washington, and Wilmington. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.