Laura Straub | The Gazette
MEDINA TWP. — Hiram College’s Instant Decision Day program gives anxious college applicants the opportunity to learn on the spot if they can be accepted to the private liberal arts college.
The program is new to Hiram and a first of its kind in the state, according to the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio.
Association spokeswoman Stacey Dorr said a polling of the admissions directors of the 49 members of the association found Hiram was the only school “offering such a program.”
Hiram College counselors and financial aid experts will make the hourlong trip from the campus in eastern Portage County to the Panera Bread restaurant, 4960 Pearl Road, on Feb. 26 to meet with prospective students.
Interested students and their families can come to the event for dinner and assistance in completing their applications.
“The whole idea is families really do get overwhelmed with the whole college search process and they just stop,” said Timothy A. Bryan, spokesman for the college.
Bryan said that the Instant Decision Days are designed to get families face to face with experts and get them immediate information.
In addition to answering questions regarding the application process and financial aid, high school seniors are asked to bring their transcripts and SAT or ACT results to be evaluated and receive a tentative admission decision.
Bryan said 99 percent of the time the transcripts and test scores will be enough to determine whether a student will be accepted by Hiram, a liberal arts college with an enrollment of about 1,300.
“It’s enough for us to give them a decision,” he said.
If the transcripts and scores fall within the range of acceptance, admissions advisers will assist the students in gathering the rest of the application materials, which include a writing sample and letter of recommendation from a high school counselor.
Bryan said financial aid experts will be on hand to debunk the common belief that private colleges are not affordable. Bryan said that once prospective students know they are eligible for financial aid, they are more likely to complete the application process.
Hiram’s annual tuition and fees are about $30,295.
The Instant Decision Day program was proposed by Jim Abbuhl, Hiram’s vice president for admission and financial aid.
Abbuhl said he was involved with a similar program at Gwynedd-Mercy College, in Philadelphia.
“Our research shows that many students and their families abandon their path to a college education because they feel like the application process is too complicated and cumbersome,” he said. “We want to help families get the information they need to make the best decision possible with regard to their college choice.
“We’re taking our personnel out to the community and hosting a program on our campus, to be the source of that information.”
The Instant Decision Days first appeared at a few private colleges in the Northeast, but the idea is spreading, according to Kim Clark, who covers higher education for Money Magazine.
“I have heard of this before, but never in a Panera,” Clark said. “That’s a nice twist.”
In addition to the Instant Decision Day in Medina, Hiram will host events at Paneras in Warren, Boardman, North Olmsted and Maumee, as well as at the college.
Bryan said that he expects to see between 10 and 15 families at each of the six events planned for this winter. The college asks the applicants to register prior to each event.
Bryan also said that Medina is an ideal location for this type of event.
“It’s a growing area,” he said. “It’s close to Cleveland and close to Akron.”
To register or for more information about Hiram’s Instant Decision Day program, call the office of admission at (800) 362-5280.
Contact reporter Laura Straub at (330)-721-4065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.