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Virtual Coffee Dates With Prospective Colleges

HOST INTRO (Megan Cattel): May 1st is usually the deadline for colleges to win over the hearts, minds, and wallets of prospective students. But during this pandemic, admissions offices can’t hold any in-person events. Reporter Tay Glass looks at how some colleges are trying to close the deal with applicants remotely.

TAY GLASS (Byline): For schools across the country, April is their big opportunity to charm students they’ve accepted. Phoebe Kingsak works in admissions at NYU.

PHOEBE KINGSAK: Swag is involved, meeting with faculty, current students, getting to see facilities like the residents halls.

GLASS: Those strategies aren’t possible anymore. So instead, schools are going virtual.

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GLASS: NYU’s Insta video shows time lapse shots of students studying and smiling. This along with one-on-one video chats and virtual tours are part of an online strategy schools are using to keep their yield rate up. The yield rate is the percentage of students who accept a school’s offer of admission. Usually the harder it is to get into a school, the higher their yield rate.

KINGSAK: I always equate it to dating, like, NYU is the popular boy on the varsity teams, and they're just looking your way and saying, “Hi, how's your day?” and that means so much more than the nerdy guy who's your best friend in band.

GLASS: Kingsak says NYU has a certain cache and that they aren’t too worried. But what about your best friend in band? Sean Ulrikson works at Bethel University, a small Christian school in Minnesota.

SEAN ULRIKSON: The community is in my unbiased opinion, it's really second to none.

GLASS: Bethel University is hosting virtual coffee dates with groups of prospective students. Paulo Blikstein is a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College. He says small colleges are in a tough position.

PAULO BLIKSTEIN: Kind of mid range colleges or smaller colleges will have a harder time attracting students that might not even know much about those places.

GLASS: So schools like Bethel University are hoping their personality shines through online. Tay Glass. Columbia Radio News.


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