By Adrienne Redman | Reporter
Before committing to Baylor each year, prospective students and their families swarm the campus looking to experience what life is like as a bear. The Air Force ROTC, or AFROTC, program takes this experience a step further, offering an overnight program called Bunk with a Bear.
This program allows prospective students to tour Baylor through the eyes of a current cadet. According to Los Angeles junior Kris Ty, who is the recruiting and retention officer for AFROTC, these students can visit classes, eat at dining halls, experience physical trainings and attend leadership laboratories all before spending the night in a residence hall with their host cadet.
“We place them with a cadet that lives in Brooks Flats because that’s our Living and Learning center,” Ty said. “We don’t allow them to be off campus.”
Ty is also in charge of social media posts and recruiting events for AFROTC and believes these help promote the Bunk with a Bear program to potential new students. Right now, the program has around six to 10 visitors per semester, according to Ty, and he hopes to see these numbers grow in the future.
The program carefully selects a group of current cadets that would be good hosts for the program through an interview process that ensures they are “professional, respectful and outstanding students,” according to Ty.
“[Visiting students] can also request a major, and we’ll try to pair them up so they can see what life for that particular major is like every day,” he said.
If no cadet is available with similar interests as the visiting student, they are welcome to attend meetings and class sit-ins with different academic departments during their time on campus.
Ty believes that by experiencing a specific major alongside a current student the visitors will learn if that area is really for them, even before they begin their studies.
“If they see [the host] working on biology and all of the concepts are confusing and they don’t get it, then maybe they’ll find something else that they’ll passionately pursue,” Ty said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for prospective students to figure out if they want to be a part of AFROTC, but also the major that they’re trying to achieve.”
The program is free for prospective cadets and the only cost associated is transportation to and from campus. This could pose issues for out-of-state visitors like Ty who did not participate in the program before enrolling at Baylor due to the travel costs. Once on campus, however, meals are provided through dining halls and on-campus activities are free.
In his time as recruiting and retention Officer, Ty said he has never heard of any issues during a student visit.
“The only problems that I see are just in the planning phase, like getting to set their dates when they can come in and the itinerary,” Ty said. “It’s just meeting their expectations I think, its more in the planning phase instead of the execution.”
The Bunk with a Bear program through AFROTC is currently the only overnight experience provided to prospective students. Scottsdale, Ariz. senior Meredith Mrok, who works as a Baylor experience and admissions representative at the Baylor visitor’s center believes that hosting overnight experiences for all prospective students might be difficult.
“While it sounds exciting in theory, I feel like there would be too much potential risk for Baylor, current students and prospective students involved,” Mrok said.
Interested students can register for the Bunk with a Bear program through the Campus Visits website. They should also contact the AFROTC program with the date of their visit, their anticipated major and any activities they would like to do such as housing tours, meeting with admissions or financial aid presentations.
Although spending the night on campus may entice visitors looking for a more in-depth look at the Baylor experience, the program is reserved for potential AFROTC cadets, according to Ty.
“It’s to give them a perspective of a cadet’s life,” Ty said.