Accepted Students Days in the Coronavirus Era

by Katie Heneghan & Maria Thomas, Web Editor & News Editor 

Every spring Manhattan College hosts a series of Accepted Students Days that offer aspiring students an opportunity to get to know more about the school before college decision day, which is typically May 1st each year. This year however, college admissions and decisions look a little bit different. In lieu of campus closure due to COVID-19, Manhattan College has suspended all tours for the time being, and instead hosted a virtual Accepted Students day.

This year, accepted students got the chance to attend the event via various online platforms such as Google Meet and the Youtube Studio. The college held the school-wide events on April 15th, 18th, and 22nd, allowing students ample time to tune in.

For students who are currently high school seniors, the college enrollment process has been very different from previous years. Many students are expected to make decisions about where to attend college for the next 4 years without actually seeing the physical campus. This is one of the many challenges the coronavirus pandemic has put on students and their families. The college hoped to ease some of that worry and fear of the unknown by providing an interactive experience, with stories from current Jaspers, and a virtual tour of the school as well as a welcome speech from President Brennan O’Donnell. 

Accepted students were given the opportunity to split off into zoom calls with the departments they were interested in. Michael Grabowski, Ph.D., is the chair of the Communication Department, and thought the event went well.

“While I was prepared to talk about the coursework and the different concentrations, the new students wanted to know about living on campus and student clubs. We were able to talk about writing for The Quadrangle, DJing at WRCM radio, making productions with MC-TV, being a part of PRSSA and AAF, performing for MC Players and Scatterbomb,and writing for Lotus Magazine. I am really impressed with how much our students do!” said Grabowski via email. 

Interim VP of Enrollment Management, Colette Geary, was in charge of much of the planning that went into the Accepted Students Days. Geary organized the event in hopes of maintaining some of the same excitement about being an accepted student, and to showcase what makes Manhattan College special. 

“We were able to provide the opportunity for our accepted students to learn about our academic community by meeting so many of us: from Admissions staff, to current students, to our faculty and the deans.  We all worked together to offer an authentic and meaningful accepted student experience that was ultimately received in homes across the world,” says Geary. 

Grabowski shared the same sentiments:

“I think our best part of our program are the people who teach and learn here. It is important for prospective students to see who we are.”

Students were able to move through the day with ease, allowing them to get a glimpse at just about everything Manhattan College has to offer. Current students played a major role, acting as virtual tour guides and providing perspective whenever possible. 

“We have always made a point of having current students talk with the new students. We think it’s always better for new students to hear from their peers to get an honest assessment of what it’s like to be a student here,” said Grabowski. 

Although the event took place online, this element of Accepted Students Day carried over to the virtual experience, with students from every communications concentration tuning in to share their experience. 

“This year Katie Heneghan, Caroline McCarthy, Ally Mejia, Alexa Schmidt, and Grace Taggart all met with accepted students to talk about the program. I am grateful they took the time to help orient students to what the Communication major is like,” said Grabowski.

Senior Tour Guide Ryan Kwiecinski has been working with families of prospective students to try and assist in their decision making and provide an important perspective on life at the college.

“Currently we are doing a lot of outreach with prospective students. Myself, along with some other tour guides, have been spending a lot of time talking to students and their families and showing that we care and helping answer any questions that they may have during these tough times,” said Kwiecinski. 

While hosting an online event is not the same immersive experience as hosting an on-campus Accepted Students Day, Grabowski was grateful for the opportunity, as it gave accepted students the chance to meet some of the Manhattan College community.

“I think it went as well as could be expected, but I don’t think meeting online is any substitute for meeting someone in person. However, given the circumstances we are living through today, this was the best option and was much better than nothing at all or showing a vague video. It is important for students to meet us and each other, and to learn what we are all about,” said Grabowski.

The O’Malley School of Business followed a similar direction. Dean Donald Gibson told the Quadrangle via E-mail about the experience. 

“Our purpose was to give a taste of what our terrific business school and its community of faculty, students, and staff are all about,” said Gibson.

The O’Malley School of Business also utilized student voices in offering advice and perspectives on what it’s like to be a Business student at Manhattan College.

“We had over 14 current students providing their perspectives on their majors, clubs and activities they recommend, reasons for choosing Manhattan College, and advice they had for prospective students. It was wonderful to see their passion and excitement as they spoke about Manhattan College and the O’Malley School of Business. They especially noted the strong relationships they had developed with faculty and the range of internship and career opportunities they were able to access as part of the School,” said Gibson.

While the event was unprecedented, Gibson believes it was a great success given the circumstances and online platform. 

“I think given our options for reaching out to Accepted Students during this critical enrollment time, having live interactions between our community and prospective students was a great way to provide a sense of who we are and why we could be a great match for them.”