By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
As all on and off-campus Baylor events, including Premiere Day, have been canceled until May 15, the Undergraduate Admissions office has created a website that allows for an immersive virtual campus visit for prospective students.
Premiere Day is the largest prospective student event and an opportunity for students to get to know campus in-person. This year, the university combined Premiere with “Know Where You’re Going Day” and are offering online tools as a virtual alternative to in-person visits.
The website launched Friday and allows students the ability to schedule a time and date in which they want their virtual visit to take place. From there, they can personalize the visit with options such as a virtual campus tour, visiting with a professor in their area of interest, meeting with a current student and observing a financial aid presentation.
They are also able to schedule a visit with their Admissions counselor if they want and are able to look into student life with things such as a Dr Pepper float tutorial, a video about Lady and Joy from Chamber and information on Sing and Pigskin.
Ross VanDyke, senior director of admissions recruitment, said these online resources were put together in about a week and a half.
Faculty from all colleges and schools at Baylor were able to submit videos, a total of around 95, that provided an overview of the university. They were then able to partner the videos with faculty lectures from professors in their homes.
“[It] says a lot about the faculty that we work with,” VanDyke said. “For them to be able to give students just a taste as to what it would be like to be a Baylor student and to study accounting or to study mathematics or biology.”
Since there is no longer an in-person Premiere option, Jessica King Gereghty, assistant vice president of undergraduate admissions and enrollment, said that no travel reimbursements have been given out by Baylor to students and no requests for travel reimbursements have been made.
“We know that airlines and different places are reimbursing so we hope that students weren’t out anything financially,” King Gereghty said. “We also have all of the students [names] that we were planning to meet last Saturday and are working on sending them special gifts since we didn’t get to meet them in-person.”
These videos remain on the website as a sustainable resource rather than a one-time event.
King Gereghty said that while a lot of universities are doing a one-time only live event, they wanted to make something that would be able to stay on the website.
“We wanted something that was available to students, globally, throughout the day,” King Gereghty said.
There was also a $1,000 scholarship opportunity for seniors in high school. They were given a list of questions to see if they participated in the online resources.
“Typically, Premiere doesn’t have a scholarship attached to it, and neither does ‘Know Where You’re Going Day,’” VanDyke said. “There are certain events that we do have, like ‘Invitation to Excellence’ or all of our B2B events, those have a scholarship attached to them,”
The virtual visits website also offers additional information and insight into Baylor.
“So say, ‘Hey, I really liked what I heard in the Pre-Med session. I want to know more, I want to meet with somebody,’” VanDyke said. “Then we have the ability for them to be able to register for a one–on-one in certain departments.”
VanDyke said that every one out of three students that steps foot on campus ends up enrolling.
“So we know that interactions with the people, whether it be current students, faculty and staff, those three people groups, really, we think, set Baylor apart from everybody else,” VanDyke said. “While you can’t see it in person, this is as close as we can get for them to actually be able to see it to be able to make their college choice.”
King Gereghty also stated that 87% to 90% of students make their final college decision based on what it feels like to step foot on campus.
“Without having that feeling available, we’re completely saddened and crushed for those students to not get the certainty of ‘This is what feels like home,'” King Gereghty said. “We want to replicate that for them as the best way we can to serve our students, to make sure that we enroll students that, not just start at Baylor, but that will graduate from Baylor and that really know it’s the right place for them all along.”