Imagine having a face-to-face chat with the school of your dreams a thousand miles away. The William & Mary Office of Undergraduate Admission is now making it possible for prospective students to learn all about the College through the use of Skype.
Skype is a software application that allows its members to make video capable voice calls over the internet. According to the office’s Web site, Skype technology will allow an admission office staff member to visit with students whether they are 10 minutes or 10 hours from Williamsburg.
“Lean budgets on our side and tight schedules at high schools make in-person visits increasingly difficult,” said Henry Broaddus, dean of admission. “This initiative helps our office to expand its reach despite those challenges.”
To schedule a Skype session, five or more interested students must set aside about an hour for a question and answer with one of the deans of admission. The goal of the program is to become more connected with students and families.
In November and early December, Deborah Basket, associate dean of admission, used Skype for the first time to speak to students in Poland about William & Mary. In three different sessions, Basket spoke with approximately 75 students from Krakow and Wroclaw with the assistance of their school counselors. Though the sessions were much like what Basket would give if she visited a school in the United States, she said she did spend some time explaining things that students outside of the country may not be familiar with, like the application process for American colleges and the location of the College.
Though Basket said that it was a little strange to not have the students physically in front of her, she said the sessions went well and she was able to speak with prospective students whom she may not have been able to reach otherwise.
"It's a little more involved at the beginning, but I think it went really well" she said. "They seem to really have enjoyed it."
Other social media tools used by the admission office include Facebook, College Confidential and Twitter.
These social networking tools assist students internationally in their search to catch a glimpse of what the admission office calls “the William & Mary personality.”
Wendy Livingston, a senior dean of admission noted, “Today’s prospective students communicate instantly with each other and that’s all they’ve known. In order to communicate with them in a language they understand we have to meet them where they are. Social media is playing a larger role in our office’s outreach efforts.”
William & Mary Admission has a Facebook group page that is updated daily and informs prospective students on important dates and upcoming events. Status updates on the office’s Twitter feed give students information related to what the deans are doing in the office, activities on campus and links to William & Mary news articles. For example, one of the latest tweets was “We are glad to have received so many early decision applications!”
Students may elect to follow the office on Facebook or Twitter through the admission Web site.
“We now have the opportunity to reach students in a way that we could not have otherwise,” said Tish Lyte, assistant dean of admission.
College Confidential is another valuable resource for students who seek to learn about the College’s admission process. College Confidential is an online chat room where students create threads about the application process. Every few weeks a dean of admission will check College Confidential and respond to questions and comments posted by students.
Livingston remarked, “The latest technology helps William & Mary portray itself as fun, quirky and historically innovative.”