Many prospective students were unable to attend Open House or physically tour Cal Poly this year. But Sammi Parisi, a YouTube creator and child development sophomore, is creating content to help incoming freshmen gain insight.
Her YouTube channel, Sammi Nicole, presents college lifestyle videos and has gained more than 4,800 subscribers. Parisi published one of the first dorm tours of yakʔitʸutʸu in June 2019, garnering more than 26,000 views. A few of Parisi’s most popular videos include “Rush Outfits of the Week,” “College Dorm Room Tour” and “College Weekend in My Life.”
Parisi said she was “shocked” upon hearing the news that Open House was cancelled.
“Open House was pretty much the only reason I chose Cal Poly,” Parisi said.
As a high school senior, Parisi watched many college students’ YouTube videos to see their experiences, but found no such videos made for Cal Poly. It was Open House 2018 where she experienced the small-town welcoming environment of San Luis Obispo that led Parisi to choose Cal Poly.
Parisi decided to film a video dedicated to giving prospective students insight into Cal Poly student life, Greek life, class sizes, places in San Luis Obispo and the Recreation Center.
Parisi’s most commonly asked questions include, “What dorm is the best? What do you do in San Luis Obispo? What clubs are there on campus?”
After posting the video, Parisi began receiving direct messages on Instagram from prospective students – at least 20 new messages per day. In order to answer as many questions as possible, Parisi filmed another Q&A style video.
While many people ask Parisi to share her high school statistics, Parisi opts not to, noting that admissions varies year to year and by major. As such, she said this information may be misleading for prospective students.
Parisi is very active on campus, as a member of Alpha Omicron Pi and the University Honors Program, a University Housing Ambassador, and a Fall 2019 WOW leader. However, Parisi said her involvements cover only a fraction of the opportunities Cal Poly has to offer.
“These are my own personal experiences, yours can be completely different,” Parisi said.
Parisi suggests that University Housing should create more videos sharing a variety of freshmen experiences.
“People struggle so differently their first year of college,” Parisi said.
Initially, Parisi began documenting her college life to share with family and friends. By creating YouTube videos, Parisi gave family members a way to keep up with her life, regardless of distance. As Parisi continued filming, editing and uploading YouTube videos, she discovered a strong passion for college content.
“There are so many emotions in those videos,” Parisi said of the videos she made during her freshman year.
In her YouTube videos, Parisi shares her love for Cal Poly’s close proximity to the beach, endless hiking trails and sunset lookouts, and the small-town feel. She has found many new experiences in San Luis Obispo, including life downtown and line dancing on Thursday nights.
One of Parisi’s favorite aspects of being a student YouTuber is feeling a greater connection to campus. Last year, Parisi documented her freshman year experiences. This year, she is able to give advice from the perspective of a student who has recently experienced this transition.
“People comment that they really like [the videos] and that [they are] super helpful for them,” Parisi said.
Parisi even said freshmen students approached her on campus to let her know that they used the same marble contact paper to decorate their dorm room.
“The videos were so helpful for me,” Amanda Speakman, an art and design freshman, said.
Speakman said that while University Housing tours provide valuable information, a personal YouTube video offers viewers “a first hand experience almost exactly like what you will be going through.”
Overall, student YouTubers such as Parisi “address concerns that a lot of high school seniors have,” Speakman said.
This insight was reassuring as Speakman began her freshman year at Cal Poly.
Parisi said she hopes that prospective students who watch her YouTube videos feel a sense of excitement and adventure surrounding their new college journey. Fellow students thanking her for creating Cal Poly-specific college content and encouraging them to consider Cal Poly as a college option “is the biggest compliment,” Parisi said.