Admissions Office adapts creatively amid COVID-19

By Jeremy Mauser || Staff Writer

Facing unprecedented circumstances, every member of the Franklin & Marshall community has been expected to adapt in a remarkably short time frame. The Admissions staff is no exception, as the challenges surrounding COVID-19 came into fruition in the midst of a busy season.

In a traditional academic year, the Admissions staff would be able to offer ample opportunities for accepted students to visit campus, meet current students, and acquire a strong sense of what to expect from becoming a Diplomat. Yet Spring 2020 has been anything but traditional, so the Admissions team has approached this stage of the process in new ways.

Emily Herbert, Senior Assistant Dean of Admission, explained the importance of the in-person experience for making the important decision of where to attend: “Visiting college campuses can be the make-it or break-it moment for a high school student who is looking to make their final college decision.” And for this reason, she worked with her fellow colleagues, including members of the Office of Communication, to offer new opportunities.

One such opportunity is a virtual version of A Closer Look, typically a daylong event that celebrates the students’ admission and provides insight into the student experience at F&M. Without leaving their homes, accepted students and their families can now attend student panels, speak with community members, and watch videos that display the college campus, the classroom experience, and other facets of F&M life.

But the virtual services don’t stop there, as Herbert described other opportunities that F&M has provided. “Academic departments offered a virtual drop-in hour, OSPGD held sessions, Admission Deans were available by chat, and appointments could be scheduled with Financial Aid,” she said. “We will have welcomed a few hundred students to our virtual [A Closer Look]!”

Beyond this singular event, Herbert also offered insight into other options that the Admissions staff is offering: “This week, we launched our Digital Diplomats, an opportunity for an admitted student to chat with an F&M student over video or phone,” said Herbert. “We also text admitted students to answer any questions they may have. Our next goal is to offer a virtual tour by utilizing the interactive 3D campus map already on our website, with a tour guide to virtually show families around.”

When asked about how other members of the Admissions staff are working to welcome the incoming Class of 2024, Herbert said that “the full Admission team and interested tour guides are working remotely. The Admission team is doing the same work we normally would, just from our homes. As a whole, we are doing everything we can to engage with our students and families.”

Considering the uncertainty that surrounds the college community regarding this summer and fall, Herbert said that, “At this time, no decisions have been made for future visitation options. The Admission Office will follow the directive of the College, and resume on-campus visits when campus reopens. What we do know is that the Admission Office is better equipped to share the F&M experience virtually and provide access to all students.”

“It’s more than an interactive tour; it’s about our community, the opportunities, the liberal arts experience,” said Herbert. “Ultimately we hope to have students visit campus in-person, but if they are unable to do so, we are better serving students by bringing F&M to them through video and live sessions.”

In the midst of the rest of the chaos stemming from all her office’s rapid adjustments, Herbert offered one final thought for the F&M community: “The Admission Office is very excited for the Class of 2024!”

Sophomore Jeremy Mauser is a staff writer. His email is jmauser@fandm.edu

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