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Admissions team helps students ‘find their fit’ with virtual visits

Among the many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the on-site campus visit, both for admitted students and those still weighing their options.

Admitted Student Days are a highlight for students, faculty and Creighton leaders alike, when students and professors meet, campus living arrangements are investigated and the full panoply of Creighton’s amenities are on display — from dining halls and libraries to fitness centers, social clubs and the English Gothic splendor of St. John’s Church.

Creighton’s Undergraduate Admissions team was not about to sacrifice all that.

Virtual Admitted Student DayThis dedicated group of seasoned admissions professionals has overseen the transition of the traditional campus visit to an online experience that includes virtual tours, meetings with deans of colleges, opportunities to meet other incoming students during a student-only social hour, an orientation that describes all documentation needed and a Q&A session. Parents are welcome, indeed encouraged, to join the virtual sessions since the choice of a college is very much a family decision, although the social hour is for students only. A separate parent panel is hosted by current student parents to provide a parent perspective. 

There is a story to be told and it was told through online Zoom sessions, in which University administrators, current and prospective students, alumni and parents met from living rooms scattered across at least 20 states and five countries.

The last of these was held Sunday, April 19, when Mary Chase, EdD, vice provost for Enrollment Management, told approximately 100 students that Creighton would help them build their future.

“As you sit here today, you are on the cusp of making the first real big decision of your adult life,” she said. “Today is about you finding your fit, your academic fit, your social fit and your financial fit.”

Bridget Keegan professor of English and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, laid out what she termed the three C’s of a Creighton education — community, curiosity and careers.

Creighton, she assured the virtual gathering, is a place where every student is valued and provided the highest standard of mentoring, where curiosity is fed by access to more than 60 major and minor study courses, and where career success is illustrated by statistics showing that 99% of graduating seniors are either enrolled in graduate or professional schools, gainfully employed or serving in structured volunteer programs such as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

Creighton undergraduate students who apply to medical school are accepted at a rate well above the national average and students interested in dentistry are accepted at a rate 10 times the national average, she said.

The April 19 session was the fourth of five Admitted Student Days, with only the first — Monday, Feb. 17 — held on the physical campus. The visits of March 23, March 29, April 6 and April 19 were all moved online.

Many questions were fielded during the parental panel session. Parents ranged from non-Catholics asking how well other faiths are accepted on campus (entirely, came the reply), to practicing Catholics eager to know if Mass is said daily (it is). Other questions were as prosaic as what kind of laptops are permitted (just about any) to the possibilities of double majoring (a common Creighton experience). Between 30% and 35% of Creighton nursing students study abroad during their Creighton careers, one parent was told, while others learned all about the residence hall situation, student health insurance, alumni networks and the nature of campus life for students who live in or near Omaha.

Chase said the virtual meetings are a good effort to replicate the sense of welcome, warmth and discovery that students experience upon visiting Creighton’s campus, but that the real thing is impossible to replicate virtually.

“Basically, we want people to experience the genuine feel for our beautiful campus community, which as the students and alumni testified during the online sessions, is so much a part of the Creighton experience,” she said. “I hope they felt that welcoming spirit, but we’ll all be very happy when we are able to meet in person again.”

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