Rethinking Admitted Students' Day: Another FAFSA Delay Casualty

Amy Jenkins
March 21, 2024

It’s that time of year when students come to campus - eager and full of questions as they try to imagine “could I see myself here?”

There a lot of things they are thinking about:

  • What do the dorms look like?
  • Where would my classes be?
  • What will I learn?
  • Do they have clubs I like?
  • Do they have people I like (and are they cute)?
  • And of course: how much is this going to cost?

And this year, more than other years, the last question is hard to answer.

While for some schools Admitted Students Day did not include time to look at financial aid packages, for many this was a core component.  So with the FAFSA delays continuing to cause issues and the ISIRs trickling in slower than a grandfather on a Sunday drive, what’s a school to do?

We pulled together a few ideas (many tried and true, a few that are new) for how to spend the time and to energize, engage and excite students about your school:

Interactive Campus Tours: Offer personalized, interactive campus tours led by current students. Utilize technology such as virtual reality or interactive maps to showcase campus facilities, residence halls, and academic buildings. Showing off tech can go farther than you think!

Academic Showcase: Host faculty-led sessions or panel discussions highlighting various academic programs and opportunities for research, internships, and study abroad. Give admitted students a glimpse into the unique academic offerings and resources available at the college.

Student Life Experiences: Create opportunities for admitted students to connect with current students and learn about campus life firsthand. Organize student-led panels, residence hall tours, and informal meet-and-greets where prospective students can ask questions about clubs, organizations, and extracurricular activities.  Consider a club fair where students can find clubs they know they would like…which also answers the question about people they might like too.

Career Services Workshops: Partner with the career services office to provide workshops or presentations on career exploration, internship opportunities, and post-graduation success. Help admitted students envision their future career paths and understand how the college supports their professional development.  With increasing questions about the value of higher education, focusing on what comes next can make a big difference.

Community Engagement Projects: Collaborate with local organizations or nonprofits to offer community service projects or volunteer opportunities for admitted students. Showcase the college's commitment to service and civic engagement while allowing prospective students to make a positive impact in the community.  This can serve as a great way for prospective students to interact and bond with other prospective students as well as current ones.

Admissions Office Q&A Sessions: Set up informal Q&A sessions with admissions counselors or student ambassadors to address individual questions and concerns. Provide opportunities for one-on-one conversations or small group discussions to personalize the admissions process and alleviate any anxieties.

Financial Aid Resources and Guidance: While avoiding formal presentations, ensure that comprehensive financial aid resources and guidance are readily available to admitted students and their families. You might not be able to share individual aid packages yet, but you can let them know what’s coming and how to navigate the process. And if you have a good NPC, you can share that so they can get an estimate.  If students haven’t filled out the FAFSA yet, encourage them to do so - it isn’t too late.

We know that everything this year has been harder.  Financial aid leaders are more frustrated, more tired, and perhaps a bit more gray-haired than any of us were before.  But on Admitted Students Day we can still put our best foot forward, smile, and know that the real thing many students are there for is to scope out the social life.

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