By Kari Lutes, Staff Writer
Each semester Asbury has over 1,000 visiting students touring our campus, sitting in on classes, getting their first Caf experience and graciously filling chapel seats. Of all these visiting students more than half stay overnight on campus, a stay that can be the deciding factor in making their college choice, according to Student Ambassador Tim Shell.
“I’ve heard a lot of stories about students that have come to Asbury and a big contributing factor [to their decision] is the entire hosting experience,” said Shell.
So what is the hosting experience? A host takes in a prospective student for the night and shows them what life at Asbury is really like. Kari Brown, who has hosted five times this academic year does just that. “I do what I would normally do if they weren’t there,” Brown said of her tactic for creating a great experience for perspective students. “[This way] they get a feel of campus…and every time this is what they’ve wanted.”
Mallary Wiley, visit coordinator in the Admissions Office, fully supports Brown’s hosting mindset. “We love for our guests to get to be a part of a floor Bible study, a late night run to Cane’s or just conversations and snacks, movies, studying, or video games. That is the real college life.”
Hosting isn’t only a great experience for visiting students, but it can also be a fun experience for the host, even leading to new friendships. “I really connected with a girl I was hosting during one of the scholarship weekends. She connected with my friends and we are still in contact now, which is really awesome,” Brown said of one of her favorite hosting experiences.
Hosting has its own challenges, mostly revolving around the personality of the prospective student. “The experiences differ with each student,” said Brown. “Sometimes they’re really loud and outgoing, while other times they keep to themselves. This plays a role in the activities we do when they’re here.”
Wiley is aware of this challenge and does her best to help both the guest and host to have the best experience. “If it’s a private guest we try to match by major, hometown or other area of interest,” said Wiley. “But a good host is able to connect with a guest regardless of surface similarities or differences.”
Some schools pay their hosts to combat even these small challenges, but Wiley doesn’t see this happening at Asbury. “I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Wiley. “I want care for the prospective student to be the motivation, not money.” While payment may make more students willing to host, Wiley feels that it, “wouldn’t necessarily make them better hosts.”
Shell agreed that “if guests understood that hosts were paid, it would take away the overall experience.” As a host, Brown also agrees with the idea behind the decision. She admits it would be nice to be paid, but also felt that “it wouldn’t change my willingness to do it.”
The driving force of Asbury is community, and every individual behind the hosting experience agrees that the goal of Asbury is to create an authentic community for visiting students, not a multitude of willing hosts for any reason other than to show the true heart of Asbury to every visiting student.
“[Hosting] is an awesome experience,” said Brown. “It helps you meet new people and adjust to different situations.”
“Hosting gives a picture of what living at Asbury looks like and what makes the community here so great,” Shell agreed.
Any student interested in hosting can sign up at the Co-curricular Fair at the beginning of each academic year, stop by Admissions or email Mallary Wiley at firstname.lastname@example.org.