Truman Experience Weekend opens to mixed reviews

The recent Truman Experience Weekend hosted nearly 200 prospective students and their parents, kicking off a new method of showcasing Truman State University.
The Truman Experience Weekend took place March 22-23; events included tours of each residence hall, a photo booth with the theme “Picture Yourself at Truman,” an alumni panel, a chance to discuss Truman with admissions counselors, a student activities showcase, department tours and more.
Tyana Lange, vice president for student engagement, enrollment and marketing said the change came from the desire to differentiate from other colleges.
“We’ve been doing [showcases] the same way, and they’re a great experience, and logistically they run very smoothly, but it’s very similar to what you get at other colleges. We wanted to rethink how we could be distinctive and… stand apart from other colleges and universities,” Lange said.
“We talked through the desire to go from a showcase experience—which is very show-and-tellish — to a different format that was much more come-and-do. Come and work, come and play, come and experience, come and do,” Lang said.
Lange said the transition process was challenging as there were many moving pieces, communication issues and logistical hurdles to overcome. Lange said the recent experience weekend was a pilot run to reveal what needed to be tweaked before repeating the event during the fall 2024 semester.
Lange said the event coordinators had expected around 200 students and were hoping for 300 during the fall. Lange said attendance for most events met the coordinators’ expectations. However, some events did have lower numbers.
The department tours received mixed attendance with some departments only having as little as two to four students participate. Ava Hagen, a freshman psychology major and social media manager for the independent literary journal started at Truman Oneroi, helped with the English department showcase by talking about Oneiroi and the creative writing major. Hagen said her portion of the department tour occurred after professor Adam Davis gave a presentation about the major. Many students attended Davis’ talk though there was confusion because of a misprint about the location; however, Hagen said only four students attended the Q&A afterward and the parents were generally more engaged than the students.
Other departments had better attendance than the English department. Jerry Mayhew, professor emeritus of exercise science, said the department had around 14 to 15 students attend the department tour.
“We first met them and discussed what’s involved with the health science major and the exercise science major, and what do you want to do after you leave Truman. Then we broke up into smaller groups and went to see the labs so they could get a view of that. So in total time, it probably took about two hours,” Mayhew said.
Lange said the showcase took place in the Pershing Arena instead, though she was unsure as to the reason.
Organizers Laura Bates and Rebecca Conover of the Union and Involvement Services were unavailable for comment.
Several students who participated in the showcase said there were fewer clubs and organizations present and the location change made the lack of clubs seem even more extreme.
Danielle Buckner, second-year Spanish and linguistics double-major and president of United Speakers, said she did not participate because she thought the showcase would not yield enough positive results for the amount of work required.
“I already had a lot going on that weekend, and the showcase would have been one more thing,” Buckner said. “Plus, I was just tired of advertising United Speakers at the activities fairs to actual students and then not having participation increases, so advertising to people who might not even attend Truman didn’t seem worth it.”
Lange said overall the University regarded the event as successful, and several seniors had committed to Truman after the event. One student from Connecticut had toured six colleges already and committed to Truman because of the weekend, and parents of juniors said Truman had set the bar high for future college visits. The committee that helped organize the event had a debrief to send evaluations to participants and review data to improve the event for next semester.
Mayhew said he thought the experience weekend was successful and a necessary change to cater to students.
“Everybody is looking for what do we need to do to stay up with the times, and you can’t always do what used to work ten, twelve, fifteen years ago. What’s changing? And what do we need to do? I think Truman’s doing a good job of trying to keep up with that kind of thing and see what the modern student wants and what can we do for them,” Mayhew said.

Dr. Jerry Mayhew gives tours to visitors during the Truman Experience Weekend March 22-23. Photo from Truman State University Twitter.