College/Universities: Best Practices During COVID-19

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College/Universities: Best Practices During COVID-19

In general, colleges and universities have online resources available to prospective and admitted students. These vary widely, though, from simple Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) web pages to fully-developed systems to connect potential students with the university in various ways. Most universities have been flexible with their admissions requirements, but many still fear the loss of international students who are important to their financial bottom lines. For these students, best practices suggest constant, reassuring communication while accepting more US students to replace what is expected to be lower international enrollment.

Personalize and Customize

  • In response to the disrupted admissions process, universities are customizing their admissions in consideration of individual student needs. For example, Cambridge University has encouraged students who have been offered undergraduate admission to keep a log of coronavirus-related disruptions that undergraduate offer holders have faced, such as quarantines and school closures. To facilitate equitable treatment, the university will ask them to send the logs once a fuller extent of the virus' effect is known.
  • The University of Connecticut offers admitted students a virtual admitted student experience program that will be customizable based on students' needs.

Answer Frequently Asked Questions

  • Almost every university has an FAQ web page devoted to pandemic-related admissions. However, they vary in informativeness and connection. For example, Cambridge University's FAQ page for prospective graduate students notes that the University is not taking calls and that there may be a delayed response to an inquiry form. On the other hand, St. Cloud State University's FAQ page for admitted students offers live chat and email options.

Going Virtual

  • Almost all universities have canceled or postponed onsite campus visits. However, some have replaced these with virtual visits. For example, Penn State University has a website that offers prospective and accepted students virtual tours, and an accepted student video presentation. The University of Connecticut has a Facebook group dedicated to admitted students, which has live-streamed campus tours and hosts live discussions.
  • It is unclear, though, how some universities will execute their planned online visits and registration events for prospective students. For instance, as of March 19, 2020, MIT announced that it is developing "some kind of online delivery" for its prospective students to visit the university. Similarly, St. Cloud University promises "alternate delivery methods" for advising and registration but does not specify when or how it plans to do this. As another example, Northwestern University promises "virtual programming" for admitted students and creative ways to connect with them remotely, but has not provided further details.

Stay Flexible

Reassure Internationally and Accept Locally



Sources
Sources

Quotes
  • "To enable us to treat all applicants equitably, we would be grateful if you could keep a log of any disruption (which might include, but is not limited to, periods of self-isolation, disruptive teacher absences, dates of school closures and what alternatives (if any) are provided). We do not need this information now, but it will be more accurate if you start to systematically record it; please be prepared to send it to us later in the summer, once the full extent of disruption is known."
Quotes
  • " In a matter of weeks, as spring breaks end, the $600 billion-plus higher education industry must suddenly turn to an approach many have long resisted: online education."