Although prospective students and families have been unable to traditionally preview Boston College’s campus due to the suspension of all on-campus visits in March, the Office of Undergraduate Admission has worked to provide students with a school visit experience in a new virtual landscape.
Since mid-April, admissions has held live daily information sessions with a panel of current students on its website, said Grant Gosselin, director of Undergraduate Admission. From May through August, 18 Student Admission Program staff members held virtual info sessions twice a day, utilizing the same structure of regular information sessions and campus tours.
“In late May we began running daily live campus tours, so we have students that navigate campus each day during the week with a camera and stabilizer,” Gosselin said. “They’re able to take questions from the audience in real time and just show them the campus in a way that they wouldn’t have been able to see before.”
Jacqueline Geller, SAP staff member and MCAS ’22, said that although she initially felt the online format would take away vital aspects that in-person tours once had, she was still able to build connections with prospective students.
“Honestly, I love human interaction, so it’s very different talking to a screen for an entire summer,” Geller said. “However, talking to someone on a screen is actually not as different as I thought. You still get to know the person really well. I had some really enjoyable conversations with the participants.”
Over the summer, BC also prepared faculty-led programs surrounding BC’s academic opportunities and curriculums, including information about the new human-centered engineering program launching in the fall of 2021. Gosselin said that all virtual sessions are being recorded and uploaded to BC’s website for on-demand viewing.
BC also started a new virtual program that allows student visitors to connect with a BC student for individual 30-minute Zoom sessions.
“[Through] our new Eagle for a Discussion program… BC applicants can register for a one-on-one Zoom call with current BC students,” said Gosselin. “We try to match them with students that have similar interests, either academically or otherwise.”
Geller said that the virtual summer sessions brought a boost in confidence among prospective students.
“I noticed that since on virtual info sessions, visitors don’t have to show their faces, they can submit anonymous questions to answer, [and] I think many are more daring when asking questions during the Q&A session,” Geller said. “They would ask questions that maybe they wouldn’t ask in person, which I don’t think necessarily is a bad thing, it gives us more opportunities to share more things about BC.”
On Sept. 14, BC launched a month-long Discover Boston College virtual open house. From mid-September through October, the open house will offer visitors the opportunity to learn about BC’s academic offering, social life on campus, various programs, and more details on the application process.
This year’s applicants will be the first to have the opportunity to apply to BC through QuestBridge, which BC partnered with in January.
“Our partnership with QuestBridge will start for the first time this year, which is an initiative that we have been excited about to partner with an organization that helps identify high achieving low-income students,” Gosselin said.
In June, BC switched to a test-optional policy for applicants to the class of 2025 in response to barriers the COVID-19 pandemic placed on students’ ability to take standardized tests. International students who speak English as a second language are still required to prove their English proficiency by providing a TOEFL/IELTS score, though, and this year BC also will accept scores of the Duolingo English test.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor