In this new, temporary virtual world everyone is adjusting to, Newman University had to get creative with its traditional registration day event.
Each year, in mid-April, staff and faculty host a registration event so prospective students can come to campus, talk to advisors, sort out financial aid, hear about on-campus living, see the classrooms and, of course, register for their first semester.
Since the annual get-together couldn’t happen in person this year, teams from admissions, student life and financial aid and other staff and faculty collaborated to create a virtual registration day.
Students signed up as they usually do — via website and forms. But instead of traveling to campus, they were able to complete the day from the comfort of their homes.
The admissions team collected information from the students, such as college transcripts, writing and math placement tests, athletic and special program information, and then created virtual Zoom appointments. The team also organized and shared necessary information with the staff and faculty who would meet with the students.
A total of 40 students, the maximum allowed for the day’s event, attended and completed their registrations successfully.
Georgia Drewes, associate director of admissions for recruitment, said the experience was a first for everyone and a huge success.
“The students did a great job at hopping on their Zoom call early or on time,” explained Drewes. “And faculty advisors did the same. Unlike an in-person registration day, we ran on time — and although we had a few, varying technical difficulties, the day went fairly smooth. The Registrar staff was a huge help during the day, troubleshooting enrollment issues and answering advisor questions. It was a very successful team effort.”
The main goal for any registration day event is for the students to experience a smooth, organized day that will help prepare them for their time at Newman while getting them set for their first semester.
Drewes said the virtual version had only minor blips but overall they would like to do more in the future. Organizers will be meeting in the next few weeks to discuss that possibility.
Faculty were also pleased with the day’s results, saying in requested feedback that they felt they had ample time to talk with each student, provide personalized service and create an air of confidence in each, knowing they will be ready for their first semester of college.
Registrar Lori Gibbon said her team did an amazing job working together and with their colleagues to make the day run smoothly.
“We did a ton of prep work, along with admissions, in making sure the incoming student information was readily available to the faculty advisors, among other things such as pre-enrolling the students into the learning communities and athletic sports,” said Gibbon. “I verified that all of the advisors had the necessary access … in order to view the files. And we notified Financial Aid and Student Accounts with hourly reports of those that had enrolled so they could begin contacting them for follow-up appointments.”
She added that being able to recreate the registration day experience virtually was a blessing.
“Making the students feel welcome, confident and wanted is always our goal. Aiding in their success — even from the very beginning — is our utmost responsibility.”
The student life department helped complete the day’s processes by creating and sending a follow-up email to each student with the steps they must take next to transition smoothly into the Newman University community.
Information regarding housing, purchasing books, new student orientation, security and various other important pieces were included in the email.
Drewes said registration days are important in any situation, but with the nation experiencing a different lifestyle due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the process of moving forward and preparing for the future can help students stay engaged and excited about what’s to come.
“The earlier we can get students enrolled, let them see their schedule and start thinking about what materials they will need, orientation and who their roommate might be, the more hope they can build for their future,” said Drewes. “College is an exciting time for students and providing ways for them to plan and stay enthusiastic about their first year is something we get excited about, too.”