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School guidance counselors visit campus
November 30, 1998

Lou Kapell has changed his mind about UConn.

The last time he visited the University, traveling to Storrs to gather his daughter and her belongings after her final semester, the campus was a shambles, he said. Dormitories and classroom buildings were pockmarked with missing tiles, damaged sinks and desks, and plagued by poor lighting.

The impression, he said, "was not one I would like to impart to high school seniors," a comment made more important by the fact that Kapell is a guidance counselor at Platt High School in Meriden.

But, after touring campus November 13 with nearly 100 colleagues from across the state, Kapell and Tim Gaffney, another Platt counselor, had a different impression.

"I would definitely encourage them to visit," Gaffney said. "I think UConn was at a disadvantage before (UConn 2000), compared to other New England universities, but no more," he said, looking toward the ceiling, five floors above, in the atrium of the new chemistry building.

"Guidance counselors at the state's high schools are some of our most important advocates (in the recruiting process)," said Susan Steele, vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction. "It's vital that they have a personal, hands-on knowledge of the transformation, physically and academically, that is taking place at UConn. These visits will help bring the counselors up to date so they, in turn, can transmit that knowledge to the juniors and seniors in Connecticut's high schools."

Before the campus tour, the counselors spent the morning with a variety of UConn officials who offered updates on the academic side of the house, including discussions of the newly enhanced Center for Undergraduate Education, the Honors Program, the Advisory Center for Exploratory Students (ACES). They also met with representatives from a variety of schools and colleges and heard presentations on scholarships and financial aid, and an admissions update.

"We want to say it loud and clear - we are interested in recruiting the best and brightest Connecticut students, and we want to get the message out that Connecticut high school students do not have to leave the state to receive an excellent education," said Wayne Locust, director of admissions.

"Along the way, if we can change any impressions they've developed over the years about UConn, particularly among those who haven't been here for a while, we're going to take that step," Locust said, adding that he felt the effort worked.

"A number of the counselors came up to me at the end of the day, and said they had no idea about some of the things occurring at UConn," he said. "I'm very pleased that we were able to reeducate them."

Locust said the efforts with guidance counselors would continue indefinitely, acknowledging that there are many other counselors to reach in Connecticut. He also said counselors regularly shift their roles, and an entirely new cohort may be responsible for juniors and seniors at their schools next year.

Richard Veilleux