By Courtney Steele
Today is the start of one of our favorite visit programs on the Hilltop – Destination SMU is officially underway. This program for admitted students is by far my favorite of the year – between the excited parents and students, red folders and acceptances floating around, abundance of questions and Mustang Bread at dinner (I know, between my Mustang Bread and Pinkberry obsession y’all probably think I’m crazy but I promise you once you’ve tried both you’ll be hooked for life) campus comes even more alive with all of the families joining us.
I distinctly remember my visit to SMU. In February of my senior year, my parents and I decided to attend a Mustang Monday event. I wasn’t sure what to expect, what I would think or what the program had in store. We kicked off the morning with a tour bright and early – my family and I had visited a countless number of schools and had many tours that made us want to duck out early and do our own thing – but this tour was different. Not only did our tour guide resemble Ferris Bueller (actually he could have played him perfectly in a remake), but I was in awe of the buildings and gorgeous campus but most especially I was amazed by the Southern hospitality with which we were greeted. The day continued from there and this moment will be engrained in my brain forever and it kicked off many more moments like this to come.
My parents and I were walking to the Meadows School of the Arts academic information session, and of course I was quietly shuffling along not really sure what to do as a lot of high schoolers do at these events. All of a sudden a friendly voice began talking to me, this man was very well dressed with snazzy glassses and suited up to perfection. He was so friendly asking about me, what I was interested in studying and offering to answer any questions I may have. At that moment I was amazed at the ease with which I talked to him and that we related without knowing anything about him. We finally sat down in the Bob Hope Theater and that same man walked to the front and said ”Welcome to the Meadows School, my name is Jose Bowen and I am the Dean of Meadows”. Wait? What? That incredibly friendly man that spoke with me on the walk over was the Dean of Meadows, he has an abundance of say in everything that happens in that school and he just spoke with me? In that moment, I knew that SMU was different and the atmosphere was one of hospitality and support. My parents and I left campus not sure how to articulate how we were feeling or express our excitement about SMU – we went to lunch at Tin Star in Preston Center (which has since closed down, I’m still sad about that. But, there are other locations and Tin Star’s rice and tacos are incredible!) and talked. While the conversation continued, it became very clear that we had found a campus that I loved and that my parents loved for me both of which were so incredibly important to me in my decision making process.
That campus visit changed everything for me, I had finally found the place that I wanted as my home away from home for the next four years. There are a variety of ”aha” moments that happen for students making their college decision, but if you’re still looking for yours and wanting that sparkle to be in your eyes when you step on a campus - visit.