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Mason’s student recruitment efforts pivot to virtual events and outreach

November 13, 2020   /   by Anna Stolley Persky

As the Nov. 15 early action deadline approaches for next fall’s college freshmen, George Mason University’s Admissions team is working to connect these students with the Mason community in the virtual space.

Fall Premiere, traditionally a large-scale student on-campus recruitment event, went online, with more than 900 students from the U.S. and abroad attended the virtual event.

Held on Oct. 29, the Virtual Fall Premiere included a general welcoming presentation, along with the ability for students to stop into Zoom Rooms to learn more about their particular areas of interest.

“We wanted to introduce students to Mason so they could connect and get that feeling that this is a place where they could belong and thrive,” said Elena Johnson, Director of the Washington Scholars Program & Special Partnerships in the Office of Admissions. “We built the event with the thought, ‘How do we make this special and exciting?’”

Johnson also emphasized that while there is something special about Fall Premiere on campus, having it online allowed students who normally couldn’t travel to Northern Virginia for one event to participate.

“I thought it was a great experience that gave prospective students an amazing insight into Mason,” said Gabriela Latimer, Vice President of Events for Mason Ambassadors and an Honors College junior majoring in global affairs. “During Fall Premiere, our student ambassadors gave virtual tours of the school, and we got positive feedback about how they went. The ambassadors were very proactive with how they answered questions and showcased the things that students would be interested in.”

Like other colleges and universities, Mason’s efforts to recruit new students for the 2021-2022 academic year pivoted to virtual events and outreach during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Mason’s recruitment efforts also include a web page dedicated to experiencing Mason in the online realm and virtual outreach to prospective students throughout the U.S. and abroad.

“Student recruitment pivoted to being fully virtual in March, at the start of the pandemic, and we continue to come up with ways to give prospective students options for experiencing what Mason has to offer,” said Melissa A. Bevacqua, Director of Undergraduate Admissions.

Earlier this year, Mason recruited students with a new event, called  Mason Live, which introduced the university with a talk show-style format. In addition, Mason has been hosting a series of virtual events targeting prospective students interested in different areas of study. Prospective students can also take a virtual tour of Mason or attend virtual information sessions. There are also limited in person tours that follow Mason’s Safe Return to Campus guidelines.

Mason’s Office of Transfer Services has also helped more than 1,000 prospective transfer students by meeting with them one-on-one. And finally, Mason’s admissions counselors are available to meet virtually with any prospective student to help them with the application process, Johnson and Bevacqua said.

“The process of picking schools and then applying to them is always challenging and stressful for students, and this year it is even more so for them,” said Bevacqua. “We are working hard at connecting with them and helping them through the process, getting to know them and letting them know that they matter to us.”