Admissions maintains engagement with applicants despite COVID-19 pandemic
By Maia Almeida
Because of the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the commonwealth of Massachusetts, FSU’s
admissions staff developed new strategies to market the University and keep prospective students engaged and interested.
The entire admissions staff offers one-on-one appointments with students via Zoom or phone, which has allowed them to have individual meetings with applicants who have specific questions about FSU, according to Shayna Eddy, director of undergraduate admissions.
“Some high schools allowed colleges to host information sessions and meetings with their students via Zoom calls. So, while we weren’t able to visit in person, we were still able to connect with students.
“Our office also hosted multiple ‘Application Completion Days’ where our staff would be on a Zoom call with students who needed assistance with their application or just had questions about next steps,” said Eddy.
Traditionally, the admissions department uses mail, email, and phone calls to engage with prospective
students. Students can also take part in campus tours.
This year, the department has increased its use of texting and videos through social media and one-on-one tours.
Eddy said, “With assistance from the web team, admissions enhanced the undergraduate visit page to include a welcome from President Cevallos, On-Demand Tours (Campus, Study Abroad, Dining Services, Living On Campus), and the opportunity to schedule one-on-one appointments with an [admissions] counselor.”
When the pandemic started in spring 2020, admissions started hosting virtual information sessions in lieu of campus tours. Over the summer, the department also added student-led remote tours.
In September, in-person campus tours resumed with both “student-led” and “self-guided” tour options.
Nicole Mason, assistant director of undergraduate admissions, said, “We were limited in how many attendees could come for each tour, but it was nice having guests coming to campus to visit once again.
“For those who have come to visit, the response has been very positive! Recently, we have been approved to increase our tour numbers, and we are now able to show a room in a residence hall to give students an idea of what it’s like to live on campus,” she said.
“Guests have been very excited to be able to see a room because not many other schools are offering that right now,” Mason added.
There are limited student-led tours currently being offered. Right now, eight guests are allowed per tour and each student who registers for a tour is permitted to bring one guest.
“In an effort to bring more prospective students to campus, we have opened select self-guided tours to more registrants, sometimes up to 10 students on select days,” said Mason.
Jenna McMahon, a senior student admissions representative, said, “It’s different to do a tour over the computer when you want to have the face-to-face interactions with the student who wants to come to FSU.
“The question I get most from students and parents is what guidelines will be like next year for the students. I think that students really want things to get back to normal, and on our tours, we want to show what happens on campus and why they should come here,” she added.
Senior Gabby Laurenzano, also a student admissions representative, has only led tours over Zoom this year.
“I would say the students who come to the remote tours are still just as eager to attend school, but some tend to ask fewer questions, which makes it different than last year. Normally, in-person tours are dooded with questions and multiple families,” she said.
Junior Rachel Spivey, also a student admissions representative, said, “All of the students who I’ve given a tour to crave the in-person experience and are always eager to be on campus and go into Hemenway Labs and the McCarthy Center, which is only just a glimpse at what we have to offer.
“Since they have not had even the entirety of a normal high school experience, I always try to remind them that college will be a world of difference and that they can look forward to making those new experiences here, too,” she added.
Accepted Students’ Day 2021 – also known as Rams Rising – was conducted via Zoom on April 10.
Admissions Director Eddy said, “Students who registered [for Accepted Students Day] were sent to our Slate Rams Rising landing page, where they had access to separate links for each live session that we were hosting.
“This included a link to the Welcome Session with President Cevallos, Academic Department Sessions for each major at FSU, a remote tour with an Admissions Tour Guide, and a student panel with current FSU students. The landing page also had some pre-recorded sessions available for students to watch on their own time,” said Eddy.
The admissions staff has created a lot of ways to keep prospective students’ engagement with the University up following their acceptance.
The department mails a series of postcards featuring QR codes that bring students to welcome messages from a range of people on campus.
The University also hosts an Accepted Student Website – Framingham.edu/accepted – that allows admitted students to connect with current students, faculty, and alumni. The site also features welcome messages from President F. Javier Cevallos, the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Zimmerman, and Dean of Students Meg Nowak Borrego.
Eddy said a “big source of engagement” for admitted students is the Admitted Student Facebook Group.
“The Facebook group really allows students to meet one another and start to get excited about FSU. This is a space for them to connect with their peers prior to attending FSU,” Eddy added.
Other events admissions holds to keep engagement up with prospective students include bi-weekly Zoom meetings with Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development, Lorretta Holloway and Dean of Enrollment Jeremy Spencer, and a bi-weekly Student Panel at which accepted students can ask current students questions.
Additional events include one-on-one counselor appointments, giveaways on social media platforms, and a series called “Let the fRAMily Adventure Begin.”
Eddy said, “We would just like to thank the campus community for all coming together to assist us with recruiting our fall 2021 class during these challenging times.”