Because of the Illinois stay-at-home order, prospective students can’t visit NIU in person this spring. So the NIU Office of Undergraduate Admissions is bringing the university to them.
NIU hosted its first ever Virtual Admitted Students Day on Monday, April 20, followed by a second event on Saturday, April 25. The efforts were a huge success, with 968 admitted students visiting the university virtually, more than doubling the 2019 on-campus attendance for Admitted Student Days.
“While universities nationwide are in the same situation, I’m thrilled that we haven’t missed a beat at NIU,” said Sol Jensen, NIU Vice President for Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications. “We’re working hard and leveraging virtual platforms to continue to connect with students who have been admitted to NIU for the coming fall.”
Admitted Students Days are an important part of the college admissions process, giving prospects a chance to meet NIU faculty, staff and students and see campus and residence halls for themselves.
To pull off the event virtually, the university used a technology platform that enabled live chats, presentations, panels discussions and on-demand video content.
Feedback from student prospects and NIU participants was positive.
“Our Admissions staff did a terrific job of taking what has always been an in-person event and rapidly reconfiguring it for online engagement,” Jensen said. “It truly was a campus-wide event with partners from across the university contributing to presentations and videos and talking directly with student prospects.”
The Admitted Students Days featured:
- Welcome videos from President Lisa Freeman and Admissions Director Quinton Clay.
- Video presentations from each of the undergraduate colleges.
- A panel discussion with representatives of NIU Cultural Resource Centers.
- A live panel on next steps to becoming a Huskie, with participation of staff from Admissions, Housing, Financial Aid and Orientation.
- A “Huskies Live” panel featuring current NIU students who answered prospect questions on everything from housing and dining halls to class sizes and campus parking.
- Chatrooms for questions about the University Honors Program, Cultural Resource Centers, CHANCE Program, academic colleges and Academic Advising Center.
- On-demand pre-recorded presentations (in English and Spanish) on topics that included housing, transferring to NIU, managing college costs, first-generation student resources, choosing your major and career professional development opportunities.
The Virtual Admitted Student Day events provided students the opportunity to directly engage with NIU experts and ask questions.
“Our new platform delivers a central space for them to enjoy components of a live event, while also serving a gallery of presentations and other helpful information within the same space,” Clay said. “We know many teens and young adults prefer to observe, browse and learn without the pressure of presenting themselves and becoming the focus of attention. This is not dissimilar to behaviors we observe at on-campus events. We also know this audience wants to consume information at their own pace, throughout the daytime and late-night hours.”
The Admitted Student Days gave students a chance to experience and learn how to navigate the same software they’ll use for orientation. The July 17 Open House also will be a virtual event this year. Admissions is additionally holding daily info sessions, tours and one-one appointments for student prospects.
“We’ve checked all of these boxes with our new model,” Clay added. “We’re committed to tweak and refine the delivery of future virtual events to address the preferences and feedback we learn from our future students.”