NIU amplifies virtual options to engage prospective students

Admissions counselors at NIU might not have the ability to meet face-to-face with prospective students, but connections remain strong through an enhanced virtual environment.

Virtual tours, information sessions and appointments coordinated through a newly created Undergraduate Admissions website allow students to see campus, ask questions and do all the things they would have done in person before the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Prospective students can now engage with the Office of Admissions virtually through online information sessions, virtual campus tours, group chats and one-on-one appointments with Admissions counselors.

Through the expanded options, NIU’s counselors continue to meet students where they are in a personable way, said Quinton Clay, director of Admissions.

In many ways, the newly created virtual environment puts additional tools in the hands of both counselors and prospective students, he said.

Students can choose between information sessions in English and Spanish, those designed specifically for transfer students, as well as those geared toward prospective students who are the first in their families to go to college.

Along with group chats, prospective freshmen and transfer students also can set up one-on-one virtual appointments with Admissions counselors.

Quinton Clay, director of Admissions

“I think this is certainly one of those things that has been, if anything, a bright spot in some very tough moments I think all of us are going through,” Clay said. “It’s meaningful to find ways to connect, and I think we each value and appreciate human interaction a little more than we have before.”

NIU already had some virtual options and had intended to expand those. The recent pandemic accelerated those efforts, Clay said.

Reactions from both prospective students and staff have been enthusiastic, with students remaining attentive and engaged in the virtual interactions, he said.

Students are encouraged to get comfortable as they interact informally online, while browsing through the university’s many available online resources.

“This generation likes to multitask and loves to use several mediums at once,” Clay said. “This is the perfect opportunity, and it’s completely appropriate for these conversations.

“From firsthand experience, I’ve seen how impactful this can be. I’ve seen it work.”

Along with the virtual information sessions and appointments, prospective students can check out NIU through a variety of virtual tour options: a flyover of campus, an in-depth walking tour or a tour designed specifically for parents or families.

The new site also features videos and a glimpse of huskiesofNIU on Instagram.

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