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Notre Dame admissions adapts to virtual events due to pandemic

| Friday, September 25, 2020

Following campus-wide restrictions on outside visitors due to COVID-19, the Notre Dame admissions office has had to shift to an online platform when connecting with prospective students and families. 

Director of undergraduate admissions, Christy Pratt, said that these online changes are necessary for the health and safety of the campus. 

“As much as we would love to be able to meet with our [prospective] families in person, the health and safety of our students and faculty and staff are what’s really important right now,” Pratt said. 

Pratt detailed the expansive online programs that her staff has implemented, including virtual preview days.

“Our team has had to quickly pivot to providing lots of opportunities to be able to connect with our students and families in a virtual online platform,” Pratt said. “We did a whole series in July called virtual preview days that really focused on the college search process and gave some great different videos on everything from how to write an essay to what does it mean to be looking at a Catholic institution.”

Pratt also explained that Notre Dame admissions officers are now doing high school visits, college fairs and information sessions online. 

According to Pratt, the admissions office now offers virtual tours of the campus.

“We have not been able to do in-person tours since the University closed back in March,” Pratt explained. “We have a short video that is actually narrated by one of our current tour guides by plays on YouTube so students can see it on demand.”

Along with the virtual tour in the form of an online video, Pratt said that the admissions office is now giving an online interactive tour. 

“We also have integrated a virtual interactive tour that students can sign up for through our office,” Pratt said. “[It is] narrated by a current tour guide, and then at the end of showing those pictures, then the tour guide is available via chat to be able to answer those questions.”

Along with the admissions directors, the jobs of the student tour guides have changed following the COVID-19 restrictions as well.

“We are still employing our student tour guides; they’re just shifting to an online platform,” Pratt said. 

The student tour guides are now involved in answering questions from the online chat feature on the admissions website and online information sessions. In addition, the admissions office started a new student-led panel, called Live at ND. 

“The student tour guides talk about their personal experiences at Notre Dame: why were they involved in their majors and what they’ve done,” Pratt said. “And then [Live at ND] also provides that opportunity to take questions from the audience virtually.”

Possibly the biggest chance to University admissions this year has been moving to a test optional approach. 

Pratt said Notre Dame is test optional this year for first year and transfer students with the possibility of continuing to be test optional in future years.

“In the late spring, Notre Dame joined over 1,400 colleges and universities have been test optional,” Pratt said. “We are doing a pilot one year with opportunity for future expansion of that.”

Pratt assures omitting test scores from an application will not negatively affect a student’s application.

“There’s absolutely no penalization whatsoever,” Pratt said. “We have been actually having the test optional question in admissions for several years, because we were finding that it was playing less and less of a factor in our decision-making process.”

Pratt further explained that their admissions decision process is holistic, meaning that they look at the whole application and not one part is most important. 

“We always start with a student’s transcript and that academic preparation for Notre Dame, we look at the rigor of their program, we look at the grades achieved on them,” Pratt explained. “That provides the foundation and then we look at the entire application holistically.”

As for any anticipated changes in application numbers this year, Pratt says time will tell. 

“We have not made adjustments to our application plans or our admissions deadlines, those are remaining the same,” Pratt said. “We will see how that plays out.”

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