A Franklin & Marshall College education is based on a simple, powerful concept: Together, we create the way forward. But how do we forge that path when we cannot be physically together?
With the COVID-19 pandemic, F&M—like all other institutions of higher learning—faced a potential obstacle to its effort to recruit and yield the Class of 2024. The College’s admitted student day, A Closer Look, was fast approaching, but visits to campus were officially canceled until further notice. Typically a vibrant, exciting occasion that packs the campus with admitted students and their family members, the College had to figure out how to move the event online without sacrificing the energy and exhileration of the in-person event.
The F&M admission team, working closely with faculty, current students and colleagues in the Office of Communications and Information Technology Services, thought outside of the box and showed its dedication to exploring new frontiers by bringing students and families together so they could enjoy these offerings from the comforts of their homes:
live virtual panels with students, faculty, and the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD);
virtual classroom experiences;
a financial aid discussion; and
a video tour of the College’s home city of Lancaster
Through these events, as well as several slideshows showcasing the life of the College, prospective students and families were able to explore campus and academic life, ask questions, and learn what it’s like to be an F&M student.
“Having this opportunity offered virtually, including recorded videos, live panel discussions, and a way to connect with our admission deans and financial aid officers, is integral to being able to have F&M meet the students where they are,” said Kimberlee Bryan, admission visit coordinator.
Social media added another engaging layer to the virtual event.
“One of the most popular and vibrant features of A Closer Look is the Club Fair, during which student clubs and organizations set up tables to show accepted students what they have to offer,” said Timothy Brixius, digital & social media strategist. “Knowing that many of these groups are also active on Instagram, we invited them instead to share Instagram story posts so we could put together a kind of virtual club fair with photos, graphics and videos.”
A second A Closer Look will be held Friday, April 17, for those who couldn’t attend April 3 or for those who want to attend again. In addition to A Closer Look, F&M remains dedicated to providing a personalized experience for every admitted and prospective student. Showcasing that the College personalizes education and encourages students to discover and expand their ambitions even as the nation isolates itself to combat COVID-19, F&M will continue to offer virtual experiences for current high school juniors who are in the early stages of the college search process. There is also a form families can fill out indicating whether they would like to be notified when the College reopens to visitors.
"We understand that in these unsettling times, students and their families need a personal touch now more than ever," said Donald A. Saleh, interim vice president for enrollment at Franklin & Marshall. "To that end, we have pivoted to digital interviews, virtual information sessions, and webinars as just a few of the ways we are helping to make the college decision process as easy as possible without sacrificing the hallmarks of the F&M experience: a warm, supportive community dedicated to the intellectual and social welfare of every one of our students."