Spring Gala showcases the York experience

York’s annual Spring Gala recruitment event proved to be quite a success.

More than 5,000 future students with their parents, friends and family were welcomed onto the Keele campus for the Spring Gala on March 27. The event is the largest recruitment event of the year and provides prospective students with an oppportunity to experience what York is really like. 

The day’s agenda featured dozens of campus, residence and Faculty-specific tours, and presentations about everything from the aboriginal student experience to international opportunities and admissions updates. Prospective students also had a chance to speak with experts from Admissions, Student Financial Services, Student Services and York’s colleges and Faculties. For applicants with future planning in mind, the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the Alumni Office were available to answer questions and provide advice.

Right: Visitors flocked to Vari Hall Rotunda for York’s Spring Gala 2010

The morning began with the Circle of Scholars Breakfast in the Underground restaurant. The event acknowledged 71 top scholars for their high academic achievement. Attendees (200, including family and guests) had an opportunity to mingle with current students, York’s President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, and Robert Tiffin, vice-president of students (who also served as the event’s master of ceremonies), as well as the masters of York’s colleges. 

Based on visitor feedback from last year’s post-event survey, the Students Services Information Fair was included in the Spring Gala event. A printed agenda was given to all visitors this year and more signage was created to direct them to the fair, which was held in the Vari Hall Link. The increased promotion meant increased traffic to the more than 20 different areas showcased, including Housing, the Career Centre, York International, Food Services, Sport & Recreation, Security Services, the Bookstore, Counselling & Disability Services, goSAFE and more. Parking & Transportation, the TTC and regional transit, Smart Commute and Zipcar were clustered in Central Square.

Families also browsed the First-Year Experience Zone located in the East Bear Pit and interacted with representatives from Student Leadership & Community Development, Health Education & Promotion and Residence Life; learned about first-year student experience programming; tried their hand at a few video games; and enjoyed free popcorn and cotton candy.

Left: A student volunteer in the First-Year Experience Zone gathers cotton candy for visitors

“We saw 160 student volunteers for York Admissions alone and an estimated 500 to 600 students, faculty and staff participating in this year’s Spring Gala,” said Shelby Verboven, manager of on-campus recruitment & special events.

The event also recognized York in the context of the larger global community. The Earth Hour Café was not only a place for visitors to grab a cup of coffee, but to learn about York’s commitment to sustainability on campus and around the world. Yorkwise information was available and a slideshow highlighted York’s efforts and initiatives to be ecologically, economically and socially conscious. Visitors were also encouraged to join York University’s commitment to Earth Hour and sign a banner in support.

Right: A student joins York University in supporting Earth Hour 2010 in the Earth Hour Café

More highlights at this year’s Spring Gala:

  • The Plan Your Day online agenda-builder offered a searchable, sortable and printable agenda ensured visitors could plan their day without timetable conflicts.
  • The colleges were well represented at the York’s Colleges table in the Vari Hall Rotunda.
  • Dozens of tours, including campus walking tours, campus bus tours, residence tours, Sport & Recreation tours and Faculty-specific tours.
  • Numerous sessions, panel discussions and mini-lectures on everything from programs of interest to degree application to international experience.
  • An Aboriginal Student Experience session exploring Aboriginal support services and admission for aboriginal students.

Every undergraduate program from York’s 10 Faculties was represented at the Spring Gala. This academic presence combined with faculty-specific tours and sessions illustrated the engaging, interdisciplinary nature of York’s programs of study, and the amount of flexibility and choice offered to future students. For example:

  • The Faculty of Environmental Studies offered a taste of university experience through a mini-lecture by Professor Anders Sandberg, a semifinalist from TVO’s Big Ideas Best Lecturer Contest.
  • The Faculty of Fine Arts promoted artistic talent with in-studio, live performance presentations and exhibitions and tours.
  • Glendon offered a preview of their Spring Gala event, held March 28.
  • The Faculty of Health provided tours, panels and Q-&-A sessions with current students and professors.
  • The Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies provided a wealth of information, from what future students can expect in the first-year to opportunities in their field after graduation. 
  • The Faculty of Science & Engineering welcomed students to the Computer Science & Engineering building with specialized tours, presentations and information booths.
  • The Schulich School of Business greeted business hopefuls with an overview of the program, an information fair and mini-lectures.

Right: Students have their questions answered at the Schulich School of Business

One of the highlights of the day was the on-the-spot admission processing. Admissions experts assessed documents and, if the applicant was eligible, extended offers of admission. In the same room, the Atkinson Centre for Mature & Part-time Students offered dedicated assistance to mature and university/college transfer students, including those who were just admitted.

A laptop station staffed by the New Media Communications team gave applicants the opportunity to accept their offer of admission, apply for residence, complete their Student Financial Profile and check the status of their application through MyFile. Some applicants discovered they were admitted to York while at the Spring Gala. “Today I was speaking with a father who was encouraging his son to check his application status, a daily event since the son had submitted an application to York,” said Bindu Balakrishnan, new media communications assistant with Recruitment. “The son groaned and checked his status online with much doubt, but sure enough – he was accepted! They were so happy. They went off to visit his new Faculty with huge smiles on their faces.”

Right: Future students could go online at the Spring Gala to check the status of their application and accept their offers of admission

Now that the gala is over, the focus is on Faculties and their conversion events and personalized communications initiatives, says Verboven.

The Admissions & Recruitment team will also continue to reach out to students before the May 28 application acceptance deadline during return school visits and the E-parties on April 20 and May 19, both from 5 to 7pm.