Prospective students face barriers due to COVID-19 pandemic

Brian+Troyer%2C+dean+of+admissions%2C+said+students+have+other+options+now+that+physical+tours+are+not+available.+

Photo by Maria Crenshaw

Brian Troyer, dean of admissions, said students have other options now that physical tours are not available.

Following Marquette University’s guidelines to cancel or postpone all events and classes across campus to the end of the semester amid the coronavirus outbreak, the university’s Office of Admission also canceled its upcoming events for all prospective and admitted students to the university.

The canceled events included Discovery Days, which is an all-day open-house event for prospective students to attend and was scheduled for March 22, as well as Choose MU Days, which are smaller admitted students events and two Admitted Students Day/Weekends, which were scheduled for April 3-4 and April 17-18.

Additionally, Marquette’s mandatory orientation program for incoming students, SPARK, or Summer Priority Advising and Registration Kick-off, will be fully online this summer.

Prospective students, which include admitted incoming first-year and transfer students, as well as high school sophomores and juniors that are visiting schools before applying, rely heavily on visits to campus in order to help make their college decision, dean of undergraduate admissions Brian Troyer said.

The university’s guidelines for responses to the COVID-19 crisis are based on Governor Tony Evers’s decisions, which ban mass gatherings, which now applies to any gathering of more than 10 individuals.

The university has canceled all on-campus visits and events through May 10, and is not taking any new reservations for on-campus events through June 1, according to Marquette’s website.

Troyer said he is uncertain if the effects of COVID-19 will impact enrollment numbers. Not only is there the issue of prospective students not being able to physically visit campus for a tour or shadow visit that could potentially result in lower enrollment numbers, but also the economic impact of COVID-19 may potentially affect students’ college decisions, he said.

While prospective students will not be able to physically visit campus during this time, Troyer said they have alternate options to get a feel for Marquette and help make their college decision.

Students can take a virtual tour of campus, book a virtual appointment with an admissions counselor, watch virtual information sessions and call or text admissions with questions. Students can locate this information on Marquette’s coronavirus webpage with a tab titled “Future Students”.

While the virtual tour of campus is not a new addition to the Marquette admissions website, Troyer said the virtual appointment option was added in response to COVID-19. In the past, admissions counselors have been able to speak remotely with prospective students that are unable to make it to campus, but virtual meetings were not previously a formalized option on the website, Troyer said.

Additionally, Troyer said that while May 1 is still the deadline for students to submit their deposit for attending Marquette in the fall, admissions is granting extensions to students who request it due to impacts of COVID-19. A deposit deadline extension request form can be found online. According to Marquette’s website, a deposit deadline extension can save new students a space at the university, but does not necessarily guarantee them space in a program with restricted spaces. Marquette will continue to evaluate the deadline based on the always-changing effects of COVID-19.

Troyer said the Office of Admissions is hoping to have individual conversations with prospective students to get a better understanding of how they feel about the current situation and what they personally need to make their college decision.

Troyer said the university wants to ensure that students feel comfortable reaching out, despite being unable to visit campus.

“We’re making ourselves available to talk with them about financial aid, about admissions next steps, connecting them with current Marquette students who have offered, in each of our colleges, to speak with admitted students about their experience here at Marquette,” Troyer said.

Kendra Stepnowski, a current first-year in the College of Arts & Sciences, took Marquette’s virtual tour when she was applying to colleges. However, she said it was the physical campus tour that she took during the spring of her senior year of high school that helped her better understand Marquette’s size and its “social atmosphere.”

“The virtual tour was definitely nice, but it’s a little hard coming from a small town, understanding the actual physical layout of the school,” Stepnowski said. She is from Theresa, WI, a town approximately 50 miles north of Milwaukee.

She said the physical tour allowed her to get a better understanding of the size of campus, as the walk around campus was a lot shorter than she expected. While the virtual tour and her idea of a city campus made her think that Marquette was very large, Stepnowski said her physical visit to campus made her realize it was “not as big as one would think it would be” and “still small and homey.”

Additionally, Stepnowski said she learned from her tour guide, who was Jewish, that although Marquette is a Catholic, Jesuit institution, students from a variety of religions and backgrounds attend the university.

While Stepnowski said she made up her mind that she wanted to attend Marquette and did not apply to any other schools, her tours of campus – both virtual and physical – helped her get a better feel for the campus.

Clare Herrig, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, works as a campus tour guide and said physically visiting campus can be very important for students considering attending Marquette.

Herrig said it can be helpful for prospective students taking tours of the university to physically see current Marquette students working and studying around campus in order to get an understanding of the campus environment and picture themselves at Marquette.

In her own college search experience, Herrig said her visits to campus really helped her make the decision and ultimately choose Marquette. Herrig toured Marquette three times – the first to get a general idea of the university, the second to try to figure out what she wanted to do in college and the third to shadow a class.

Herrig’s final two colleges she was deciding between were Marquette and a Big Ten school. Ultimately, she said her decision came down to being on campus and watching how students and professors interact. Because current prospective students cannot take physical visits to campus at this time, Herrig said she recommends taking advantage of virtual options for getting a better idea of campus, like watching videos about a day in the life at Marquette.

Herrig also suggested students who have already toured the university, but might have wanted to visit one more time before ultimately making their decision, can reach out to their tour guides with any additional questions. She said every tour guide gives out business cards for that purpose.

Another option that visiting prospective students usually have but do not do during this time is a shadow visit. Stepnowski is a part of the shadow program, and has had three prospective students shadow her this year.

Prospective students are able to do a shadow visit either for one day or overnight. They get to select a student online that they wish to shadow, based on information provided including the current student’s year and college.

Stepnowksi said she thinks the shadow program is very successful, and each of the three prospective students that shadowed her told her they were choosing to attend Marquette.

This story was written by Kelli Arseneau. She can be reached at kelli.arseneau@marquette.edu.