In the wake of coronavirus-related shutdowns across the nation, many families are still tasked with making higher education decisions without being able to step foot on campuses.

The Washington Post recently posted an article aimed at parents and students examining the new ways they could experience the campus culture while we’re all staying at home. From the article:

“In light of the closures, admissions offices are allowing interested juniors as well as admitted seniors a better window into life on campus. One of the real positives that’s going to come out of this is the way schools are ramping up online engagement of students.”

Use this advice to pivot

Higher education institutions can use a lot of the advice in the article to quickly pivot and address our new circumstances. For example:

“Some schools where my son had been registered to visit have invited him to attend an online information session, which can be a good starting point. But Parke Muth, a college consultant and former associate dean of admission at U.Va., points out that speaking directly with a faculty member can be even more revealing.

“He counsels students to look beyond the admission offices and connect with professors who are teaching in the departments that interest them. Students can also contact admission offices and department heads and ask to attend a virtual class. ‘You might say: I notice you’re doing research in X, Y and Z. I’ve been studying A, B and C, and I’m wondering if I’m admitted, would I have an opportunity to work on this with you?'”

So, use the advice above to make your professors available for prospective students over video. Schedule one-on-ones or have open office hours with your professors. Making connections with professors early can help prospective students choose your institution.

Brainstorm time!

Here is a list of ideas I’ve brainstormed from the article:

  • Reframe thinking about the virtual tour. Take inspiration from destination and vacation travel sites. Stop calling it “virtual”—it is a real tour of campus.
  • Centralize all the data/information a student will look for. If you answer the questions they have, you get to frame the answers as solutions to their needs. This requires an investment in research.
  • Up your social media game! Make sure that all the school accounts are active and engaging. Prospective students are on social media. Be there as well.

If this inspires you, we have many more ideas on how to turn these new circumstances into something that works. Reach out and get in touch.