Art by Caitlin Roark
High school senior Steven Song had planned to tour a few universities where he had been accepted so he could get a better idea of where he would spend the next four years of his life. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, many schools like Pepperdine have closed their campuses and canceled admissions events, leaving prospective college students like Song without integral experiences to help inform their college decision-making process.
“I set up a couple of tours to the schools I got into because I’m still deciding between the schools, but a lot of those events got canceled, which is really unfortunate because I was hoping to get a lot of my questions answered at those events,” Song said. “So now I have to do a lot of research at home, which is a lot harder to do than an in-person meeting.”
Pepperdine Seaver Office of Admission has also been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak; the office staff have transitioned to working remotely and canceled all campus tours, admitted-student visit days, the Malibu Reception and regional admitted-student receptions.
“These events provided us with the opportunity to meet students and their families face to face — and many of these on-campus events help students to choose Pepperdine,” Kristy Collins, the dean of enrollment management at Seaver College, wrote in an email. “Canceling the events is a huge loss.”
In response to these cancellations, the Office of Admission started offering virtual tours of campus and is beginning to implement more virtual events such as a virtual Malibu Reception.
Collins wrote in an email that the office will try to address any questions students have over email or phone.
“We will try to be as adaptive and nimble as possible to meet the changing needs of prospective students, in light of COVID-19,” Collins wrote.
Some colleges have boosted their admittance rate and over 200 schools have extended their enrollment deadlines as a result of the uncertainty from COVID-19, according to an article by The Wall Street Journal.
Admissions officers at undergraduate institutions worry how the pandemic will potentially affect enrollment for fall 2020, according to a recent survey released by the EAB. However, Pepperdine — which sent out all Regular Decision notifications Tuesday, March 17, with a May 1 enrollment deadline — does not hold the same concern.
“We are certainly concerned about the future consequences associated with COVID-19, but I remain confident that enrollment will not be impacted,” Collins wrote.
Infographic by Ali Levens
Another concern of admissions officials across the country is the impact of travel restrictions on the enrollment of international students.
This would be especially important at Pepperdine, where international students make up 11.8% of students.
Collins wrote that at this point, the admissions process for prospective international students has not been impacted; however, the pandemic’s future impact is still unknown.
Among many other high school students, Song and high school junior Jackson Shaw said they worry about missing out on campus tours because of the lack of opportunities to meet professors, as well as the inability of virtual tours to depict what day-to-day life is like.
“I’m not sure how well a virtual tour of a campus will go because I’m not sure if it completely shows what the campus will be like, especially the social life,” Shaw said.
The outbreak has also affected standardized testing, an important element of the college admissions process. The ACT rescheduled its April 4 national test dates to June 13 and July 18, and the College Board canceled the SAT as well as makeup exams and subject test administration. Shaw had planned to take the ACT but has had to adapt and change his plans as a result of this, which he said has been tough.
High school junior Lauren Brandmeyer said the pandemic has taught her that the comfort and support that a college campus and community offer and have are important factors she values in a school.
“If something like this happens and I’m just like, ‘Oh, thank God, I get to come home,’ l don’t want that feeling, and I think a lot of other people are starting to prioritize that feeling of comfort,” Brandmeyer said.
Collins wrote that she is proud of the ways Pepperdine has supported students during this challenging time and hopes prospective students will see that.
“I hope that prospective students and families will be able to see that we care deeply for the safety and well-being of our students — and their academic pursuits of course,” Collins wrote.
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