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Turning the college visit on its head

Northeastern is turning the idea of a traditional college tour on its head with a new visitor center that delivers a unique first look at university life through the lens of Northeastern’s experiential and innovative approach to education.

When visitors, including prospective students, parents or faculty, check in at the new visitor center — which opened earlier this month in West Village F — they are at the “front door” of what is a holistic experience of getting to know everything Northeastern has to offer. The state-of-the-art displays and presentations provide a customized multimedia experience which, paired with dynamic interactions with current students, faculty and staff, provide in-depth information about specific academic programs, student life, faculty research, and academic and co-op opportunities worldwide and bringing the Northeastern difference to life for the scores of visitors welcomed to campus each year.

“We created a high-touch, high-tech space that immediately reflects Northeastern’s strengths: innovation and creativity, global reach, and translational research,” said Jane Brown, Northeastern’s vice president for enrollment management. “The exciting interactive opportunities in the center demonstrate the distinctive Northeastern advantage that is achieved through the full integration of rigorous academics and real-world experience.”

The number of students and their families traveling to campus during the college search process has increased by nearly 50 percent over the last five years, now reaching more than 70,000 annually. The new visitor center and its unique approach to campus visits will be a platform for the admissions staff and Northeastern’s colleges and academic programs to further engage that growing number of students drawn to Northeastern’s momentum as a research and academic leader in Boston and around the globe.

Today’s high school students are looking for more than the traditional information session and campus tour, opting instead to connect with the academic programs that most interest them by speaking with students and faculty in a more personal, focused setting. The visitor center ensures more students have the opportunity to learn about the university and connect with specific programs. This process begins with innovative technology and continues with information sessions custom-tailored to the interests and needs of visiting students and tours of campus that can include visits to specific laboratories and research areas.

“I view this new visitor center as a conduit,” said Murray Gibson, founding dean of the College of Science. “The visitor center is, in a way, the university’s front door. We want to attract students who are really interested into our labs and research spaces. We want them to meet with our professors and the students.”

The visitor center features three large interactive walls that connect students with information and videos about Northeastern, a presentation room that accommodates 110 visitors per session, five interview suites for in-depth conversations and small group meetings and a smaller presentation room, which holds up to 40 visitors and is used primarily for program-specific sessions.

“We came here in the spring, but we wanted to take a closer look,” said Randa Pehl, who was visiting Northeastern with her son, rising high school senior Andrew, and husband, Michael. “We visited the older space last time and were really impressed, but this new location, with the interactive video walls, is just spectacular.”

“I’m interested in either science or business, and this visit let me see even more clearly what Northeastern could offer,” said Andrew, whose visit included lunch at International Village and a one-on-one meeting with a member of the admissions staff.

The new visitor center will also be used for a wide array of university events and programs. It’s located close to parking and the MBTA’s Green and Orange lines.

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