Undergraduate Admissions Implements Virtual Experiences for Prospective Students
Every year, a new set high school seniors begin their journey of pursuing higher education. Pressure to find the right school pushes students to do research, ask questions, and eventually tour campuses. The SMU community is used to the flocks of prospective students observing the campus from strolls across Dallas Hall lawn to stops inside Fondren library. With COVID-19 changing almost every aspect of normal life, what will prospective students looking to visit campus do now?
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions has created an interactive digital experience for prospective students to experience SMU in a new way.
”We have a couple different resources that students can use to still engage with campus or at least see campus,” said Assistant Director of Campus Visits, Tyler Snyder. “Our virtual tour was created by SMU Marketing and it’s a 360 degree view of most of the buildings on campus.”
The virtual tour also provides prospective students with visuals of a few different residential commons. If students want a more personal online visit, they have several options to interact with members of the admissions office.
“Another resource [for prospective students] is called Wisr, an online platform where admitted students will be able to engage with our current student ambassadors in a setting where they have individual communities,” Snyder said.
A few of the communities available for prospectives are the Class of ’24, International Students, and those that represent each of the academic schools. Along with the student ambassadors, prospective students will be able to communicate and interact directly with admission counselors through live information sessions and one-on-one Zoom sessions.
These virtual options were created in a short span of time and cover a vast amount of information. The task was no easy feat for the admissions office.
“Quite a few of my colleagues worked through weekends to get the platforms ready,” Snyder shared. “We took it step by step, and acknowledged the reality that we’re going to have to make the most of a virtual platform, so we might as well do it the best we can.”
As the admissions process moves into a digital format, student ambassadors also reflect on their roles in the process and their contributions to the prospective student experience.
“I love giving tours and working with students,” Student Ambassador Ankita Padarthy said. “I feel like I’ve been able to help [prospective] students see what makes [SMU] unique.”
Student Ambassadors help run admissions events, give tours to prospective students, work alongside admissions counselors in the Undergraduate Admissions office, and more. Ambassador Ian Perkins-Smith says that he wanted to be an ambassador since his freshman year and finally got the opportunity in his junior year.
“Even if a student may not have SMU as their top choice, it’s great to let them know what my experience has been, especially since it’s been so positive,” Perkins-Smith said.
Although the office has changed its methods in the middle of the pandemic, its goals have ultimately remained the same.
“[The Admissions office] knows and acknowledges the tremendous amount of stress and anxiety that can coincide with trying to figure out the college search process,” Snyder said.“We want to help them, we want to work with students and we want to be there and support them in any way possible.”
Ambassadors like Padarthy and Perkins-Smith are looking to the future of their roles and how they will continue to interact with new students.
“It’s going to be sad not seeing prospective students on campus, but we are excited that they’re still considering SMU,” Perkins-Smith said.