Harvard will open its gates to about 1,000 prospective students this weekend under the heading of a new unofficial name: Visitas.
The new moniker for the program is one of several changes to the annual weekend geared toward introducing admitted students to life at Harvard.
The Undergraduate Admissions Council solicited suggestions in the fall for a new, more Harvard-specific name, said UAC Co-Chair Kevin X. Liu ’11.
After receiving several hundred anonymous suggestions in response to their e-mail to House and dormitory lists, the UAC board selected Visitas.
Visiting Program Director Valerie A. Beilenson ’07 said that the name was chosen too late to replace “April Visiting Program” on official printed materials this year, but that she hopes to see “Visitas” as the official name of the weekend next year.
The printed program does contain a few modifications from last year’s schedule. After last year’s arts and humanities panel received positive feedback, all three academic divisions will offer informational panels this year.
The a cappella concert that was traditionally a hallmark of the weekend has been reinvented as “Pre-Frosh Palooza,” a multiethnic performance featuring the Harvard Breakers Organization, Asian American Dance Troupe, Pan-African Dance and Music Ensemble, RecKlez, Mariachi Veritas de Harvard, and the Harvard Ballet Company, in addition to three a cappella groups—the Pitches, Callbacks, and Din and Tonics.
In an effort to help admitted students attend the visiting program, Harvard is covering transportation costs for more prospective students. Thanks in part to an alum’s donation, students whose families earn under $80,000 per year will have their transportation fare either arranged and paid for by Harvard or reimbursed after the weekend, according to Director of Financial Aid Sally C. Donahue.
Last year, free trips were offered to students from families earning less than $60,000 per year. The expansion will cover an additional 70 to 100 students, Beilenson predicted.
“Particularly if they’re from a distance, I think it’s really important that they come to Cambridge if they haven’t been here before,” Donahue said. “And it’s really important as well that they meet their future classmates.”
For the first time, the admissions office plans to count the number of parents and other guests who attend with prospective students.
“In the past we’ve had no idea,” Beilenson said. “My guess is several hundred based on the fact that we give away several hundred t-shirts.”
Beilenson said that over 100 student organizations will host events geared toward prospective students this weekend.
“Obviously not every weekend is this busy,” she said. “It’s a good showing of all the opportunities and resources available at Harvard. Some of these things are a little harder to find on any given day.”
Current Harvard students can also find something new at prefrosh weekend this year—Beilenson said that all students acting as hosts for the visitors can pick up their own complimentary t-shirt in the admissions visitor center any time this weekend.
—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.