Newman University Admissions hosts an annual breakfast for high school counselors on campus, but this year, they had to get creative with the format.
With ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the admissions team created a virtual event that included the same information an in-person event would entail.
Associate Director of Admissions for Recruitment Georgia Drewes said the team thought following best practices was in order. Since gathering would not have been safe and since students had transitioned to online learning shortly before Thanksgiving, a virtual event was more practical.
As an additional bonus, admissions representatives themed the meeting around the movie “Elf” and even assembled themed breakfast boxes using the movie as their inspiration.
The box contained ingredients from the movie’s famous spaghetti dinner scene.
Drewes said, “In the movie ‘Elf,’ there is a particularly disgusting scene where Buddy mixes a bunch of unconventional items together, mostly sugar, to make ‘breakfast’ — he mashes it all together with his hands and digs in.
“We took all those ingredients, made a recipe card, and put it together with some Newman items, like a reusable keychain cutlery set and reusable wheat straw keychain, for a ‘breakfast’ they could enjoy at home.”
She added that their goal was to create something fun, memorable and unique for the counselors to enjoy.
“So far, we don’t know of anyone who has tried it,” added Drewes, “but they all seemed to enjoy the creativity of it. The box included s’mores Pop-Tarts, chocolate syrup, M&M’s, marshmallows, maple syrup and ramen noodles.”
Turning the event into a virtual one also boosted attendance, allowing more counselors to learn about Newman and what the university has to offer to their high school students.
While an in-person event will still take place in future years, Drewes said having a virtual option for those across the U.S. is something they are going to look at offering. This alternative would allow counselors who just don’t have an option to travel very far to learn all they can about the university.
More than 140 counselors from 20 different states joined the virtual breakfast Dec. 3 via Zoom. Average attendance of in-person past events has been between 45-60 counselors.
Many of the 2020 attendees were introduced to Newman for the first time because of their distance.
Attendees met President Kathleen S. Jagger, Ph.D., Chaplain Adam Grelinger and Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management Paul Carney.
Also joining the meeting were Assistant Dean for Arts and Sciences Audrey Hane, Professor of History Kelly McFall, Director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life Joseph Shepard and Drewes. Each talked more about academics, student life and Navigator, the university’s new support and personal success program.
Along with information about Newman and its programs, more fun was had during the meeting. Prizes such as “first person to RSVP,” “best Zoom background,” “best on theme” and even a prize for “most things hanging on the wall in the background” were awarded during the meeting.
After the event, those who attended received one more special treat via mail — a custom T-shirt proclaiming “we love school counselors” sporting the Newman logo on the back.
Drewes said, “We had fun with it. The counselors noticed and we had a lot of positive comments in our event survey. I’m so glad those unfamiliar with us took a chance on the virtual event and keep us in mind for their students.”