Office of Admissions launches virtual options for prospective and admitted students

Director of Admissions Dixie Williams (center) and her team have created a multitude of virtual admissions options. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Director of Admissions Dixie Williams (center in red jacket) and her team have created a multitude of virtual admissions options. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Call the Office of Admissions at the University of Missouri–St. Louis anytime between 8 to 5, and you’ll be answered by one of the dedicated admissions representatives working remotely.

But a phone call is just the tip of the iceberg on ways that potential students can get the information they need about the university during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since university operations went remote, Director of Admissions Dixie Williams and her team have been working on how to attract and enroll students through a host of virtual options. The remote admissions efforts stretch from traditional to brand new, and Williams foresees UMSL maintaining the virtual options even after social distancing is no longer necessary.

“The biggest thing for me in this is that we have to be available for students,” she said. “Students first. Students need to be successful whether they’re students at UMSL, whether they’re remote or in high school right now and or they’re transferring and they’re unsure.

“Students want to go to college. They want to earn their degree and to progress, and in some cases, adults now are being laid off from jobs and are going to need educational opportunities. We want to be available to support them through that. My philosophy is where they are, we will go, and right now that’s virtual.”

Prospective students can schedule virtual appointments through Zoom or a phone call with a Student Recruitment Specialist through the Office of Admissions website or ask questions through a Live Chat on the admissions website.

There’s also a host of virtual sessions including the new Triton Lounges, Zoom hangouts where prospective students can ask questions of current students and admissions counselors and bi-weekly webinar series through Platform Q for both prospective and admitted students, Tritons Together: Home Edition. That features Williams as host with guests such as Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs D’Andre Braddix talking involvement at UMSL, Assistant Dean of Students Natissia Small on academic support or Sodexo General Manager Bob Marx on UMSL’s dining options.

The week of May 18, the Office of Admissions will hold an Admitted Student Week during which different academic units, faculty and the office of financial aid will hold several virtual information sessions for students attending during either the summer or fall semesters. Separately, Williams’ team is also working with UMSL’s colleges and academic units to develop virtual information sessions.

To ensure that prospective students can see campus without ever having to step foot at UMSL, Triton Leaders, current UMSL students, are leading virtual tours of the campus, and live virtual group tours are available.

She is also reaching out to prospective transfer students through a virtual meetup with community college advisors and counselors on May 14.

“Everybody across campus has been good at partnering and making things virtual and providing access to students,” Williams said, noting efforts by Vice Provost of Enrollment Management Alan Byrd, Assistant Director of the Welcome Center Alicia Taylor, the Pierre Laclede Honors College and others.

The work of Williams and others has started to yield results since going remote. There have been approximately 100 virtual visits scheduled and growing.

“This happened a lot sooner than any of us would probably like at this point, but we’ve been very capable,” she said.  “That speaks to the passion and the level of expertise that exists within the system and the support that we received from the administration. It’s been a team effort, and there have been a lot of people involved in making it happen. As a director it’s been phenomenal to watch my team sit down and figure out how to make it happen for the students, make sure they’re getting that support so they can be successful.”

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