Virtual town hall: Maryville College tells its story in unique way
By Matthew Stewart | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Responding to changing times, Maryville College is sharing its story in innovative, engaging ways.
The college held its third annual virtual town hall meeting Tuesday and invited prospective families across the nation to join the online event.
A panel composed of Financial Aid Director Richard Brand and Julie and Phil Julian of Powell, whose daughter Emily is a Maryville College senior, talked with viewers in an intimate, relaxed setting produced in Isaac’s Café. WBIR-TV News Anchor John Becker moderated the event.
The panelists sat around a tall cafe table and talked about the financial aid process. Families participated in the live Internet video broadcast, and they could submit questions in real time on Maryville College’s website.
HP Video, a video production company based in Knoxville, produced the online meeting and streamed the event.
Maryville College hosted about 1,000 viewers in 2011 and hosted about 2,000 people in 2012, said Dr. Dolph Henry, vice president for enrollment. College officials were expecting several thousand viewers this year.
The college has experienced success with earlier virtual town hall meetings, said Mary Leidig, Maryville College’s director of marketing. “A virtual meeting with prospective student families helps us reach them in their natural habitat: The Internet. Instead of a crush of student families attending a college fair, Maryville College is meeting families ‘up close and personal’ right from their home computers.”
College officials were also pleased to host the Julians for a third year, Leidig said.
After Emily Julian was accepted by Maryville College, the family was intimidated initially by the college’s tuition.
“When she got the financial aid package, I said, ‘We can’t afford it,’” said mother Julie Julian. However, Assistant Director of Financial Aid Alayne Bowman later met with the family and walked them through Emily Julian’s financial aid package.
“She really helped us understand the financial aid package,” said father Phil Julian. “If you’re a parent, especially with your first college student, they’ll help walk you through the process and explain everything for you. They listen to your concerns, and they want to hear them. They truly work with parents.”
Both parents have also been pleased with their daughter’s education.
“She’s learned so much here, not just in the classroom,” said Julie Julian. “Maryville College’s motto is ‘Stretch Your Mind,’ and it’s what they do here. I think everybody who’s graduated from Maryville College is a better person.”
Increased financial aid
The Julians’ story highlights an important lesson for prospective students and their families, according to college officials.
“In today’s economy, it’s more difficult to sell a private, liberal arts education,” Brand said. “Maryville College has responded by offering a larger percentage of financial aid to its students. The college has increased its percentage of gift aid from 54 percent in 2008 to 64 percent this year. It’s lowered their out-of-pocket (expenses).”
Maryville College has also tried to hold down its tuition, he said. Officials have approved “very modest (tuition) increases,” including 1.99 percent last year.
“The price of education should never be a deterrent at any school,” Brand said. “We have a very lucrative financial aid program to offset the sticker price. We offer close to $40 million in total financial aid.”