Monmouth / About the College / News / Full Story

Creative online experiences allow prospective students to connect

Barry McNamara
04/13/2020
Students participate in the First-Year Walkout last August.
View High Resolution Version
MONMOUTH, Ill. – High school students might not be able to visit the Monmouth College campus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they can still experience the College. That’s possible thanks to the creativity and innovation of the College’s Office of Admission.

When it became clear that campus visits would be canceled to help contain the virus, Admission Event Manager Michelle Carlson said she and her Monmouth colleagues went to work immediately to revise and adjust to the new “normal.”

“We went fast-forward on a plan,” said Carlson. “There’s been a lot of brainstorming, coming up with new ideas. We’re trying to make it as normal as possible for the students getting to know Monmouth College. We want students to connect with our people. Hearing from the students, faculty and staff will undoubtedly make them feel the genuine love at Monmouth College and understand our sense of family.”

To that end, the College has developed several programs, including two “Mondays with Monmouth.” The first session was held earlier this month; another one will be held at 6 p.m. April 27. The program gives prospective students an opportunity to connect with admission counselors and current students via Zoom.

“‘Mondays with Monmouth’ are ideal for those who are just beginning their college search or are wanting general information about Monmouth,” said Carlson.

For the student with a greater understanding of the College, a new weekly program is being held at 6 p.m. every Thursday through May 7. The program gives admitted high school seniors who are finalizing their college search an opportunity to chat with current Monmouth students.

“There won’t be any admission counselors or faculty members,” said Carlson of the one-hour sessions. “This is genuine student-to-student conversation. We know that prospective students want to hear about the student experience at Monmouth.”

Faculty are present in another new online program, “Make It Monmouth: Academic.” Beginning April 14, prospective students can hear from faculty on the following days and times:

• Educational Studies, noon, April 14;
• Chemistry/Biochemistry/Pre-Med, 4 p.m. April 14;
• Performing Arts, noon, April 15;
• Psychology, 4 p.m., April 15; Business Administration, noon, April; 21;
• Kinesiology, noon, April 22;
• Biology, 4 p.m., April 22;
• Political Science, noon, April 24;
• Engineering, noon, April 25.

“Each program will have a faculty presentation, and then the faculty member will be able to answer questions,” said Carlson. “For some of the sessions, students in that major will also be present. This has been an idea we’ve had from the beginning of our new plans, but we wanted our faculty to get settled into a rhythm of working with current students in the temporary remote learning set-up before we started up.”

Carlson said the Office of Admission also hopes to launch a series of virtual classroom opportunities, so prospective students can sit in on an online class, just as they can when they make a campus visit.

Assistant Director of Admission Erin Lafary said the College has also instituted several other one-on-one opportunities for prospective students. That includes Monday through Friday video sessions at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. so that admitted seniors can chat live with their admission counselor. At 2 p.m. on each of those days, Fighting Scots coaches will be available.

“We’re doing all we can to create experiences for prospective students,” said Lafary. “A lot of our first-year students tend to be athletes, so it’s important for them to have those meetings with coaches so they can decide on what is the best fit.”

Monmouth Vice President for Enrollment Management Kristen English said it’s been impressive to see the College’s offices work together to create an online campus visit experience for prospective students and their families.

“I am incredibly proud of our admission, marketing and financial aid teams and the agility with which we’ve been able to adjust course,” said English. “Nothing will replace the experience of students setting foot on Monmouth’s gorgeous campus, but the most impactful parts of the visit are the relationships and the chance for prospective students to connect one-on-one with professors, current students, coaches and our counselors. That we can try to replicate, in ways that bigger schools might struggle to do effectively.”

Normally, the College’s admission staff would now be entering the hectic final few weeks of the recruiting cycle, which reaches its zenith in the days leading up to May 1. That will not be the case this year.

“Financial situations are also in flux for many families,” said English. “We are working with every prospective student and their families individually to figure out how we can best serve them right now. While we hope most students will be able to decide by June 1, we will also be flexible with those for whom plans might change even later into the summer.”