Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis speaks with other participants of The OHIO Guarantee event.

Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis speaks with other participants of The OHIO Guarantee event.

Photographer: Stephanie Elmore/Ohio University

Carly Cecil (left) and Breanna Sisler (center) explain to Elizabeth Jones the goal of The OHIO Guarantee event. (Katelyn Vancouver/Ohio University)

Carly Cecil (left) and Breanne Sisler (center) explain to Elizabeth Jones the goal of The OHIO Guarantee event.

Photographer: Katelyn Vancouver/Ohio University

Nicole Williams, admissions adviser in Undergraduate Admissions, fills out the final survey from the OHIO Guarantee event on Sept. 10 in the Walter Hall rotunda. (Katelyn Vancouver/Ohio University)

Nicole Williams, admissions adviser in Undergraduate Admissions, fills out the final survey from The OHIO Guarantee event on Sept. 10 in the Walter Hall rotunda.

Photographer: Katelyn Vancouver/Ohio University

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OHIO faculty, staff transform into student personas for OHIO Guarantee learning event

Two additional events set for Oct. 7, Nov. 12

Faculty and staff who often serve as the cornerstone of student learning at Ohio University took full advantage of an opportunity to further educate their students about the new OHIO Guarantee by participating in a creative event designed to be as unique as each of the students they advise.

"Your Passport to The OHIO Guarantee” was held in Walter Hall Sept. 10 and allowed members of the University community to transform into the personas of eight different fictitious OHIO college students, aided in part by Passport cards that defined details about the students’ diverse backgrounds and individual situations.

The event gave faculty and staff an inside look at how The OHIO Guarantee affects multiple students, including veterans entering college, as well as traditional, multi-campus, part-time, transfer, regional campus, non-traditional, and international students making their way through the college process.

"Hosting an interactive learning event to enable faculty and staff to become more familiar and comfortable with the program was one of the main objectives of the Passport planning team. Based on feedback from participants, it appears that this mission was accomplished,” said Renea Morris, executive director of University Communications and Marketing, who led the planning committee for the event.

Learning how to navigate the Office of Financial Aid as an international student proved helpful for Rosemarie Basile, assistant director of the Ohio University School of Art + Design. “I do a lot of recruitment for the School of Art + Design, so this information is really helpful for me in talking to prospective students, and also for helping our international students because they are a little confused — as am I — about how The OHIO Guarantee works for them in terms of affordability,” she said.

The Walter Hall rotunda contained tables staffed with employees from the offices of Admissions, Housing, Culinary Services, Financial Aid, the Registrar and Bursar, who answered questions and provided advice for each student persona. Faculty and staff moved through the room at their own pace, spending as much time as needed to fully understand The OHIO Guarantee.

A representative from Culinary Services explained that dining fees remain the same for four years as part of The OHIO Guarantee. “You could be a traditional student or a non-traditional student, but you’re locked into a rate for 12 semesters,” explained Dennis Washington, general manager at Boyd Dining Hall. “You’re in a cohort, so the price structure will remain unchanged. In the event it takes you longer than 12 semesters, you’ll go into the next cohort for another 12 semesters.”

Professor of English Linda Rice played the role of a transfer student from Akron who was hoping to complete her degree within one year. “Communications and Marketing put this event together, and it gives us an interesting perspective,” she said. “I want to understand this so that when I’m talking to prospective students, I understand what it is. I think a lot of time students ask questions and parents ask questions that we don’t know the answer to, so this is the perfect way to learn.”

It’s not just students and parents who need answers, but alumni too, noted Elizabeth Jones, director of development for the College of Health Sciences & Professions. “I meet with alumni all over the country and I want to make sure I understand the program so that I can explain it and reiterate it to them,” she said. “My job is to engage alumni and get them back involved with the University. So this allows me to highlight all the good stuff that’s happening with their alma mater and explain how we’re trying to attract really great students, and not only attract them, but retain them and keep them at OHIO.”

Advising students and parents is vital, especially for first-generation students and their families who have never navigated college, noted Tonga Cox, an adviser for the College Adjustment Program who was the first participant who completed the Passport event. “CAP deals with some students who are first-generation and some students who are low-income, and so the predictability, transparency and accessibility of The OHIO Guarantee are so important for the students that I advise, because they don’t know what to expect,” she said.

As a first-generation student who worked three jobs in college and had several student loans, Cox knows first-hand how difficult and complex college can be. “I think the event highlighted how important we are as advisers, to make sure students understand their DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) and complete school in four years and stay focused,” she said. “It brings into focus how important it is to really know and understand what they want to do and stay on track.”

As participants visited each table, they received a stamp on their persona card. Once their cards were completed, they received a special reward for completing the Passport event, as well as an official passport that contained each of the personas and quick reference information to use when advising actual students. Participants also are asked to fill out a survey rating their experience and familiarity with The OHIO Guarantee.

While there are several complexities to The OHIO Guarantee, everything can be learned, explained Nicole Williams, admissions adviser in Undergraduate Admissions. “We can give students the knowledge they need to make a decision about coming here to OHIO,” she said. “I think everyone was very knowledgeable, and knew what they needed to know from their respective offices. They were able to, I think, guide us on what to say to students and how to approach certain questions that we hadn’t thought of, so I think it was really good to think of the questions that they thought we needed to answer.”

Adding to the interactive experience was a viewing room featuring a series of videos created by University Communications and Marketing, which featured the work of students, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, under the supervision of the University of Communications and Marketing. The videos addressed common questions students and their families might ask about the program.

“Your Passport to The OHIO Guarantee” will be held in Walter Hall again on Oct. 7 and Nov. 12 to allow for maximum participation by the University community. To register to attend one of the events, please use this link to RSVP.