It seems to be survey season. Almost every organization in my life is asking me to complete one right now. I took my car in for service, and I keep getting requests to fill out a survey on my experience. I took my son to a sporting goods store to buy some workout shorts and now that store wants me to complete a survey (I’ll do that one since they give me a $10 coupon in exchange for my input and I spend a small fortune there). I bought a pair of shoes online and guess what I received, even before my shoes arrived? A survey.
Colleges and universities are no different. In recent weeks, my colleagues and I have received several emails asking us to complete surveys regarding our plans for fall rep visits and college fairs. So, in a (futile) attempt to ward off future surveys, I’ll respond here.
Do we plan to offer in-person visits this fall? While all rep visits last fall were done virtually (my first blog post of the academic year lamented this fact), my administration is hopeful we will be able to allow in-person rep visits this fall. While we haven’t figured out all the details yet, we want to have as much of a normal year as possible. There might be some conditions though. For example, a visiting rep may need to complete a health screening prior to coming on to campus. Once on campus, the rep may be asked to wear a mask unless they have been fully vaccinated. I don’t really know at this point, but I’m going to say, “Yes” to this question.
Will our visits be outdoors, indoors, outdoors and indoors, or other? Since my school is in sunny Southern California, our rep visits may all take place outside. If they are going to be indoors, my colleagues and I will make sure they’re done safely. We’ll try to have them in spaces with good airflow and distancing measures in place. However, to make matters more interesting, our campus is undergoing a major construction project that won’t be completed until next fall. Space for visits will be very limited.
Will we offer virtual visits? I can’t help but think that not all reps will be able, or even comfortable, visiting high schools in person. Some admissions officers work for institutions that currently restrict their travel. Others have health concerns or live with loved ones who do. This past year has taught us to be creative and embrace a variety of options. Of course, we will extend the option for reps to “visit” us virtually. While it was not the ideal situation last fall, I thought our virtual visits were rather effective. The students who attended said they were able to learn a lot about the college from the presentation and were able to engage with the reps via the “Chat” feature or by the “hand raise” to ask questions. Reps were able to share links with students to specific websites and garner student contact information electronically as well.
Do we intend on hosting a college fair this fall? This is another common question on the college’s fall plans survey. My school opts for individual rep visits in the fall over a fair, so the answer to that has always been, “No.” However, when it comes to college fairs, I’ve heard several admissions colleagues express their reservations about standing in a crowded gymnasium with students, many of whom may not be vaccinated, packed around them sharing the same airspace. The chorus of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” by The Police, plays over and over in my head at the thought of a crowded college fair.
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Mercifully, unlike my vehicle’s service department survey that says, “Please take this short 10-minute survey” (Uhh, no), these surveys are short and take less than a minute to complete. While I feel like everything is opening back up this summer, so much of our plans are speculation. I mean, if Covid taught us anything, it’s that plans can, and do, change. Expect the unexpected and hope for the best, right?
In-person visits will largely depend on what our local county health department mandates for the fall. While June 15 has been a proverbial carrot dangled in front of us Californian’s as a date when there will be fewer restrictions and a return to normalcy, our local county may have a different set of rules and regulations for schools to follow in August.
I am optimistic though. As I prepare to send final transcripts to colleges for the Class of 2021, I can’t help but be grateful for all we’ve accomplished this year. One of our teachers, who is retiring after 40 years in Education, recently spoke of all the “delicious moments” she has had with students, faculty, and staff throughout her many years. Her speech resonated with me. I can’t help but think of all the delicious moments that happened this school year in the midst of Covid: The student who got into that school; the one who decided another was the best fit; the student devastated by rejection, followed by the joy of discovering other options were even better; the moment when a student found her voice and rocked her college essay; the student who was thrilled she didn’t need to send test scores she didn’t have because testing centers were closed; all the good that came out of this organization with leadership ready to embrace what the future holds and keep students’ needs at the forefront.
So congratulations, everyone! You made it through this academic year. May next year and the years after be filled with many delicious moments – and fewer surveys.