By Alaina Perdon
Elm Staff Writer
For many Washington College students, our earliest experiences with the College involved a bubbly student tour guide marching us through Hodson Hall or allowing us a glimpse into a dorm room. George’s Generals, the student contingent of the WC Admissions team, provide a much-needed insider perspective for prospective students.
“I became a General because I wanted to represent the amazing opportunities I have gotten to partake in as a WC student and to be a friendly face for high school students who are currently navigating the process,” junior and current General Carlee Berkenkemper said.
Berkenkemper joined the Generals program in the spring of her freshman year and will be promoted to an executive position in the fall of 2021.
The WC Admissions website boasts that George’s Generals are “more than just tour guides.” According to Berkenkemper, her and her colleagues assist with open house events, tele-counsel prospective students, host overnights for incoming students, and help admissions counselors with information sessions in addition to giving their well-known campus tours.
In the midst of the college application process, rife with daunting, adult conversations, and interviews with official-looking college faculty members, applicants can find comfort in the presence of a student not much older than they are. The friendly, more informal interactions prospective students have with Generals make the school seem more welcoming.
This team of students can interact with applicants in a more natural, intimate manner. WC promotes the “small, unhurried conversations” that take place on our small, cozy campus; Generals foster these meaningful connections, even in a virtual setting.
“Virtually, we used UniBuddy, which is a system that allows Generals to have profiles on the website that prospective [students] can message with questions for students in an informal manner. We also have ‘Connect with Goose Nation’ which is a virtual opportunity for prospective students and Generals to video chat one on one,” Berkenkemper said.
Moreover, placing actual, current students on the front lines of the Admissions team showcases the many opportunities available to WC students, giving prospective students a glimpse of what their lives may look like if they choose to attend our school.
Accordidng to the WC Admissions website, “WC students are able to do it all, and do it all here.” The Generals speak to their experiences as students, discussing their involvement on campus and in the Chestertown community.
“We have a small student body at WC, but a diverse range of interests, and I think that is well represented in the George’s Generals. As tour guides, we bring the perspective of all of our other campus activities ranging from Greek life, SGA, [Student Events Board], clubs, and honor societies,” Berkenkemper said.
One can only glean so much from websites and promotional brochures. The students provide an authentic experience, capturing elements of campus living an advertising team comprised entirely of adult staff members simply cannot.
“Like everything else, we are always looking for ways to improve and evolve, but I think the George’s Generals program does provide an authentic perspective of life as a WC student,” Berkenkemper said. “I, personally, am open about being a student with [a] disability who receives accommodations from the Office of Academic Skills while also being an OAS peer tutor. I really appreciate being able to share that authentic perspective to prospective students who may have questions about adjusting to college and the supports the school offers.”
It is this authentic display of all the best parts of WC that makes the George’s Generals a vital part of the Admissions team.