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Emerging from the Pandemic – Where do We Go from Here?

Jancyn gives her perspective on how the Carleton Admissions Office now has a more equitable approach to prospective student outreach, with virtual offerings as a result of the pandemic.

Jancyn gives her perspective on how the Carleton Admissions Office now has a more equitable approach to prospective student outreach, with virtual offerings as a result of the pandemic.

In the last few weeks, the admissions office has been busy, busy, busy. Even with no applications to read and a hybrid visit method, life on campus keeps on going! The return to the office has come with lots of joy, finally seeing the smiles on old and familiar faces (as well as many new ones!), and of course, welcoming prospective students and their families back to campus. That said, I think many positives have come out of our ability to adapt during the pandemic. 

A Larger Reach in a Virtual World

First, I believe that we reached more students of more backgrounds than our previous entirely in-person method. This diversity isn’t only from a geographical standpoint, but particularly socioeconomically. There’s something to be said for the inadvertent equity reach that comes from connecting with students virtually and conveying what’s so special about Carleton without them needing to fly to campus. I know I got to connect with more students of color and international students, which I hadn’t done before. 

Fellows Kelly and Zoë celebrating after giving a virtual tour during the 2020-2021 school year.

A New Challenge for Us

Second, the pandemic forced the admissions office to be more deliberate about our communications methods. Things like body language, connecting over coffee, or gauging someone’s “vibe” weren’t an option anymore. We were now reliant upon Google slide decks and a 2×2 inch window on your screen. Our information had to be energetic yet precise. In-depth and articulate, but concise and palatable. Ironically, it was as if we were applying to college all over again. The worries of “how do I convey my entire personal, academic, and life experiences in 750 words?” became “how do I possibly get 16-19-year-olds to possibly care and be excited about a place they’ve often never heard of and certainly have never seen?” In a very Carleton fashion, this challenge was daunting but exciting, and we forged ahead. Some tackled 6am college fair calls to Beijing, and others were training tour guides who had only ever given a virtual tour. 

Even New Student Week had to adapted to be mostly virtual for fall term of 2020. NSW leaders were trained to help incoming first years adjust to campus in a Zoom format.

How Equity Fits in to the Holistic Review

Third, the pandemic forced us to confront the equity barriers that still existed even in what we call a holistic review process. Changes like becoming test-optional opened our school up to applicants that may have been scared away by middle 50% statistics and deemed themselves “unworthy of admission” (which isn’t the case). It also accounted for the fact that success in standardized testing is linked to wealth and access to education. These kinds of considerations and acknowledging many of the equity concerns that still exist at progressive colleges like Carleton makes me excited for what classes of the future may look like!

This post is not to be aloof, toxically positive, or hopelessly in search of a silver lining, but rather a reflection of the work we’ve done this past year. The last year has rocked us as an institution, an office, and certainly as individuals in more ways than one. However, as always, it’s a great day to be a knight. 

Jancyn is a rising junior from Kansas City, MO. She is a Political Science/IR major and has minors in Public Policy and Spanish. Outside of class, Jancyn serves as a senator on CSA (student senate), plays women’s varsity volleyball, coaches men’s club volleyball, serves as president/founder of the Black Student-Athletes of Carleton, participates in a number of Black student orgs, and works for the Admissions Office! Meet the Bloggers!