Like many prospective students Sunday, Brianna Bell paused at a table scattered with props - oversize glasses, megaphones, pennants - before striking a pose in front of a Purdue University Fort Wayne backdrop.
The afternoon marked the Ohio high school junior's first trip to the university, which welcomed a record 800 people for Fall Campus Visit Day.
Purdue Fort Wayne, formerly IPFW, made a good first impression on Bell, who was interested in the university's music program.
"I really like it," Bell said of campus after returning a yellow feather boa and foam finger to the props table. "I especially liked the dorms."
Bell was one of 302 students registered at the event, up from 233 last year, the university reported. It noted the overall turnout was up from 655 attendees.
Kenneth Christmon, associate vice chancellor for admissions, credited the unprecedented turnout to the university's marketing and recruitment efforts.
"We are seizing the day to tell our message," he said.
Signs in the Walb Student Union touted aspects of campus. A banner near the gathering spot for student housing tours advertised such amenities as a fitness center, free cable TV and Wi-Fi, on-call staff and lounges equipped with big-screen TVs, a pool table and foosball.
After a welcome from Chancellor Ron Elsenbaumer, students and their families were free to explore campus. Along with taking guided tours, they could attend departmental open houses and seek information at a resource fair boasting 53 tables.
Corinne Young, another high school junior, traveled from Purdue University Northwest territory to Fort Wayne. She prefers the northeast campus' art program over the option closer to home, she said, indicating an interest in graphic design.
Farah Combs, who teaches Arabic and is also the honors program director, described the event as a great recruitment tool, especially with current university students on hand to recommend programs.
When prospective students learn about the possibilities awaiting them, Combs said, "their face lights up."