Admissions reps carpool and patrol area looking for high school graduation parties of students headed to UND
If opening an acceptance letter from a university is a pivotal moment in a young man or woman’s life, seeing representatives from said university show up at your graduation party must be quite the surprise.
Led by Jason Trainer, director of admissions at the University of North Dakota, several members of the UND community, to include admissions staff, student-body leadership, cheerleaders, faculty and even a cardboard cutout of football head coach Bubba Schweigert, came together to drive to graduation parties of future students of the University and surprise them. With personalized letters from President Ed Schafer, hockey jerseys and the most recent NCAA hockey championship trophy in tow, the UND representatives showed up with prior knowledge of their intentions known only to the parents of the graduates -- most of the time, anyway.
“We were driving by and we saw a whole bunch of cars,” Trainer said. “We said ok, let’s take a chance. We pulled up and kind of hollered out the window if the student was going to UND, and she was. So we jumped out and brought the trophy in.”
While conducting the surprise visits, Trainer ensured the entire experienced was being recorded. After two weekends of surprise visits, with one or two visits on each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Trainer had plenty of video to condense down into a single video to be shared on the internet.
Within one day of the video being live, Trainer began to realize the surprise stunt was a bit more popular than he imagined beforehand.
“In the time of watching that five-minute video, we’d see our stats increase by two or three hundred views,” Trainer said. “To think that two or three hundred people were watching it at the same time was crazy.”
With views well over 19,000 now, the “carpool karaoke” style video continues to climb in popularity as more and more people watch it. Trainer says that several people have sent him emails and stopped him in the street to remark on how they thought the idea of surprising future UND students was a great.
With such a positive reaction from the community, Trainer says the admissions department will definitely be repeating the experience for other students.
Walking into a graduation party where the attendees have little to no knowledge of your arrival can be a bit nerve racking. At least for Trainer, it was at first.
“The first one I was really nervous about how it was going to go and if the student was going to think this was cool in any way.”
Trainer’s concerns were quickly put to rest. He says the feedback from the students and their families was amazing and the best part of the entire experience. After the initial surprise, Trainer and any UND representatives that were available to accompany him would talk with the students and get to know them on a personal level.
While the feedback from every surprise party was positive for Trainer, one stood out a bit more.
“We walked in after the party was dying down and wondered if we’d got there too late,” Trainer said. “She and her family were the most excited; she was just really emotional, not just because of us but the letter (written by Schafer). You could tell it meant a lot for us to be there.”
Matt Eidson University & Public Affairs student writer