• Paige Roberts

Office of Admissions Strives to Provide Characteristic Mount Experience Despite COVID-19 Challenges

The persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic into the fall semester has forced the Office of Admissions to swiftly adapt in effectively showcasing the Mount’s uniquely welcoming campus environment while prioritizing the safety of both current students and prospective families. The admissions team has gone the extra mile this semester by offering both an abundance of virtual as well as in-person experiences for students navigating their college search during such challenging times.

When the pandemic emerged in mid-March and the cancellation of on-campus classes quickly followed, the admissions team was approaching the crucial months of the recruiting process. Unable to host the Mount’s annual Accepted Students Day in the spring, they faced a challenging task in maintaining connections with prospective students. Assistant Director of Admissions for Community Engagement, Grant Henry credits the event as “the Superbowl of enrollment management events”, where students who have been recruited throughout the year are finally able to experience all that the Mount has to offer.

The admissions team wanted potential new students to have all the available resources as normal when it came time to make the big decision while coping with cancelled proms, senior sports seasons and graduations. “We were going to adapt, and I think that was the best message we could send out to students.” says Henry. Despite the whirlwind of unexpected circumstances, the diligence of the Admissions Office allowed for the enrollment of the largest class in Mount history.

This semester, the most notable adaptation that Admissions has made in response to the pandemic is diversifying outreach methods and increasing their social media presence. Through utilizing digital software including Zoom and Google Hangouts, The Office of Admissions is prioritizing one-on-one attention with prospective students and emphasizing “the ability to create a relationship with students as we’re going through the process… that’s what we didn’t want to miss out on.” Henry adds. Whatever is the best way for students to contact Admissions Counselors, whether through email, text or Zoom, the office is making sure students who are interested in the Mount have all their questions answered. “I’ll learn how to use a fax machine!” exclaims Henry, displaying the team’s eagerness to accommodate future Mounties in addressing all their concerns, down to the nitty gritty.

Keeping in mind that many families are not comfortable visiting campuses while COVID-19 cases are again surging across the country, growing their social media presence this fall was imperative for the Office of Admissions. Instagram Live sessions are broadcasted every week, in which a student ambassador and an admissions counselor discuss a certain topic and then move to answering questions from viewers through Instagram’s chat feature. Admissions is also posting Snapchat takeovers featuring daily life of current Mount students, “showing student life

on campus in a digital sense.” says Henry. Prospective families also have access to an updated, detailed virtual campus tour in which they can ask online ambassadors any questions they might have through a Q&A feature.

The Mount’s markedly beautiful campus is a valuable selling point for the university. The golden yellows and deep reds scattered across the mountainside each fall is often captivating to visitors. Unlike many other universities, the Mount has remained at a low-level virus risk throughout the duration of the hybrid semester. The cooperation of the entire campus in maintaining minimal infection rates has allowed the Admissions Office to continue offering in-person campus visits every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

With a variety of modifications to ensure the safety of both prospective families and current students, “the experience of being able to walk through campus is something that not a lot of universities can offer right now.” says Calleigh Kearns (C’21), the Communication and Recognition Director for the Mount Ambassador Program. Upon arrival to campus, visitors have their temperature checked and are required to fill out a health survey. Changes to tour routes this semester include the omittance of showing the interiors of residence halls, disinfecting door handles of buildings, avoiding the food court in Patriot Hall and the inside of the library. “Luckily, we have virtual maps” of residence halls and rooms, says Mount Ambassador Director Elena Rittie (C’21) because many prospective students would understandably like to see where they might be spending their first year of college. “It’s not the same,” states Rittie, “but it works for now.”

The Office of Admissions immediately transitioned from spring recruitment, to designing safety measures and developing new outreach strategies and into a new recruitment cycle with little to no breaks. Open houses are planned for winter break on Nov. 21 and Dec. 8 when campus is free of current residential students to ensure the safety of everyone. Despite the abundance of challenges faced by admissions this fall, there is “a lot of positive stuff that I think is coming out of this,” Henry assures. Admissions has hired two new counselors, allowing for the contribution of creative ideas and helping to maintain the drive in the office. Come spring, “there’s no sleep till May 1” for the admissions team, says Henry.