Not even a global pandemic has prevented the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from rolling out the (virtual) red carpet for new students.
UA Little Rock employees have been finding innovative ways to embrace technology to reimagine the recruiting and admissions process in a way that works during a global health crisis.
“We are trying to be a part of every platform,” said Edie Stewart, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment. “Not everyone is on Facebook or Instagram or has a computer with reliable internet access. We are taking a more holistic approach that includes every means of reaching people, whether it be through video conferencing, social media, emails, phone calls, conference calls, and even handwritten notes. The hope is that we can reach everyone where they are, and we can find ways to give them the best service and meet their needs.”
The university is finding new ways to engage with prospective and current students. Potential students still have every opportunity to explore the university, without having to step foot on campus.
Chelsea Ward and her team with the Office of Admissions created a virtual tour platform, and it’s just like a regular in-person tour,” Stewart said. “Recruiters walk our students through campus, and student orientation leaders are there to answer questions from the student perspective. The questions we get from students taking virtual tours are the same questions we get during in-person tours.”
Since large group settings can be intimidating to some, tour leaders are actually seeing an influx of questions during virtual tours, because many people feel more comfortable speaking up in an online environment. For students who don’t want to attend a virtual tour, the Office of Admissions has created a new self-guided tour which can be accessed 24/7 on the Admissions website, ualr.edu/admissions/visit
Meanwhile, UA Little Rock recruiters have been busy working with guidance counselors and principals to set up virtual high school visits. Students have the opportunity to virtually visit with their recruiter via Zoom or Facetime and have their specific questions answered. Recruiters are also busy texting, calling and emailing their students to keep them engaged. At two-year partner institutions like UA-Pulaski Tech, recruiters have continued to hold recruitment events for transfer students virtually. Some of the more social media savvy recruiters are taking advantage of apps like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram to engage with students through live events and contests.
“We have information sessions on Instagram and Facebook three to four times a week,” Stewart said. “They range in topics like how to fill out an admissions application, how to find funding for college, and what my first day of college will be like. Recruiters are able to answer student questions through these platforms in real time.”
By moving to a virtual setting, UA Little Rock is able to more easily engage with more out-of-state and international students, working adults, and even high school sophomores and juniors.
“Our recruiters have created a checklist for high school juniors to be prepared for what they need to do to apply for colleges during their senior year,” Stewart said. “It’s not just seniors and transfer students who are confused and concerned right now. Juniors are worried about what their senior year of high school and what applying to colleges will look like now. We know that they have questions on their minds, and we want to help them find answers.”
Even after things go back to normal, Stewart said the virtual recruiting efforts are here to stay.
“We are definitely going to continue these virtual engagements with students, even when we can go back to normal recruitment efforts,” Stewart said. “These virtual events open up so many new and convenient ways for the university to interact with students and their families. Students are not just looking for help and answers during normal office hours. This virtual environment helps us connect with students 24/7 and it is here to stay.”
While many families are going through a hard time financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, UA Little Rock has worked hard to help families during these stressful times. Students can apply for free using the code TROJAN2020.
“This has been warmly welcomed by students and parents,” Stewart said. “At this point, every little bit helps. Not having to worry about paying a fee to apply has been a stress reliever for many students and their families. People have definitely taken advantage of it.”
The deadline for admission and scholarship applications has been extended through Aug. 1 to help students and families pay for college. There is still scholarship money available and all applicants will automatically be considered for UA Little Rock’s merit-based scholarships. There are still plenty of UA Little Rock private scholarships available too. Recruitment and Scholarship staff are working hard to help students apply for scholarships to help take the financial burden off of families. For information check out.
“This has been warmly welcomed by students and parents,” Stewart said. “At this point, every little bit helps. Not having to worry about paying a fee to apply has been a stress reliever for many students and their families. People have definitely taken advantage of that.”
New student orientation will be conducted virtually as well. Admitted students should register for orientation at ualr.edu/newstudents. There is no fee involved and once registered students will hear from an advisor within a week to be advised and sign up for classes. New students will be sent a series of emails that will share information and videos about academic departments, campus living, dining services, student organizations, financial aid, scholarships, and more.
As with recruitment, virtual orientation and advising opportunities that have been put into place due to COVID-19 are here to stay. Students will be able to easily access this information at any time from any of their devices.
“Although our situation is unprecedented, we remain optimistic and hopeful at UA Little Rock,” Stewart said. “We are excited to welcome our new class of Trojans this fall!”