Admission advisors at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville are the face of the university to prospective students and their families – sometimes hundreds in a week. Last year, more than 6,000 students visited campus, and 28 percent had their first interaction with the university on a campus visit. So, when on-campus visits were suspended less than a month ago, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, admission advisors were tasked to quickly find a way to share the UW-Platteville experience, virtually. Rising to the challenge, the recruitment team worked together to overhaul the campus visit in less than three weeks. Last week, the team conducted their first virtual visits, to positive feedback.
“Campus tours and visits are really important to us,” said Elizabeth Niehaus, assistant director of recruitment at UW-Platteville. “We have a really high yield rate of visits to enrollment.”
Niehaus said she attributes a large part of this to prospective students’ ability to meet with faculty in their program of interest. In planning the virtual visit format, the team made sure that key component was not lost. Conducted via Zoom, the virtual visits begin with an info session – the same as an on-campus visit. All admission advisors are present during the info sessions, so that they can answer participants’ questions – via the Zoom chat function – as they arise. After the info session, participants can then join a virtual meeting for an individual academic program, where they can interact with faculty.
Another important part of the campus visit, Niehaus said, is connecting families with other resources or programs of interest. Whether it’s support services, such as Services for Students with Disabilities, or athletics, Rya Adler, campus visit specialist, coordinates communication with those departments.
Daily virtual visits are held every weekday, except Wednesdays. After evaluating the first two days of virtual visits, the team decided to add evening sessions.
“We realized that only offering the visits during the day wasn’t reaching everyone,” said Niehaus. “We know there are a lot of parents who still need to work every day, so we are going to start offering evening sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
Niehaus said that the virtual visits will also be available for the two branch campuses in Baraboo and Richland Center.
“It has been so great seeing my team work together to accommodate students and continue to provide the excellent service we do for prospective students,” said Niehaus. “It has taken all of us on the team to fulfill this. Everyone took a piece of the task and came together to create this really great opportunity. I really can’t say thank you enough to the other departments on campus for being willing to help us on their side too.”
Visit the Office of Admission Facebook page for more information about virtual visits and news from the UW-Platteville Admission Office, or register for a virtual visit online. The Admission Office is continuing to process applications and admit students. Staff is available during regular hours, from 7:45 a.m.-4:15 p.m. to answer questions and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.