Fall Recruitment and Travel in the Time of a Pandemic

March 2020, news of a pandemic was taking hold all over the world. Students packed up their things and moved out of their dorms. Staff gathered their supplies and laptops and prepared to work from home for a few weeks. Spring admitted student events were rapidly converted to webinars. Things shifted quickly and schools, students, administrators, and parents rallied and adapted. What would summer bring? Would we be able to reopen campus? Would we be able to host our in-person pre-college camp for high schoolers? As days, weeks, and eventually months dripped by, it became clear that our reality wasn’t going to simply snap back into the old, comfortable normal.

August 2020, admissions counselors found themselves still working remotely, still trying to figure out how to support incoming students and their parents for what their first semester would be. College presidents and boards, faculty, families, staff, all tried to figure out what the fall semester would look like? Hybrid? In-person? Online?

High schools and school districts also felt the pressure to figure out what the fall term would mean for their teachers, students and families. Admissions counselors began to their deep dives into Rep Vists, Maia Learning, SCOIR and other high school visit platforms. College fairs, local, regional, nationals and international, partnered with third party vendors to offer a substitute for the in-person browsing experience so essential to sophomore, juniors, and seniors as a means of exploring their college options. Unfortunately, many of these virtual fair substitutes are leaving students and colleges frustrated and unable to connect.

Waiting in my “booth” for the virtual college fair to begin.

September 2020, as dissatisfying as some aspects of this travel season are, there has been some good too, some real opportunities and moments of connection. Each of our admissions counselors has a new home page replete with sign-ups for one-on-one video/chat meetings. In this new immersive landscape of virtual online everything, students seem more willing to schedule these one-on-one appointments. And we love meeting with students in this way! There is a directness, an intimacy, a feeling of real connection through our zoom window. These zoom windows into one another’s homes is an unexpected gift in some ways. The pretense is gone. Through these zoom windows you are sharing bits of yourself with one another, strangers sitting across from one another, unexpectedly interesting conversations emerge. I welcome this little bit of added humanity in a time where we are dealing with so much upheaval and constant uncertainty.

Behind the zoom room
Behind the Zoom Room

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