Office of Admissions takes outreach online for prospective students

Wichita+State%27s+Office+of+Admissions+is+housed+in+the+Marcus+Welcome+Center.

Audrey Korte

Wichita State's Office of Admissions is housed in the Marcus Welcome Center.

As Wichita State prepares for a phased reopening on campus, the Office of Admissions is still conducting much of its outreach work online. Instead of guided campus tours and face-to-face visits, staffers are reaching out through phones and computer screens.  

“We’re just in such an extraordinary time right now that we are dealing with so many variables that none of us ever predicted we would have in front of us,” said Bobby Gandu, assistant vice president and director of undergraduate admissions. “We’ve been trying to recruit out-of-state students and have had good success over the last few years. Well, now those students are potentially the same students that might rethink their college decision and want to stay closer to home.” 

That’s the negative, Gandu said.

On the other hand, Gandu says there are plenty of high school graduates in Wichita who may be rethinking their college decisions and looking to stay in state.

“They think, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I want to go away and I maybe want to stay closer,'” he said, “which means Wichita State could be a really great option for them.”

Even while most of campus is closed to visitors, the Office of Admissions is trying to paint a picture of the university for prospective students. 

“One of the things that I worry about … is that we’re just in such an extraordinary situation, and students who are trying to make difficult decisions regarding their college search can’t even just come visit the campus and check it out for themselves,” Gandu said.

A big decision

Gandu said admissions staffers have been switching methods to try to offer students the full WSU experience, even without in-person visits.

“We always tell students, ‘Come visit our campus. Try it out, take the tour, sit in our classrooms, visit the residence halls, try Shocker Hall dining,’ and now they can’t do any of those things,” he said. “So now we’re just trying to make sure we provide all the information that we can virtually and be responsive to their questions that are coming in.”

Gandu said the office is currently offering daily virtual experiences throughout the week.

Upcoming events include virtual information sessions, an online college fair, and live-chats with students. 

“Once the university is in the midst of our phased reopening, we’ll look at bringing back in-person, on-campus visits, but we’ll continue with some limited virtual campus visit opportunities,” Gandu said.

More than 150 students have attended virtual campus visits since late March, he said, with students logging in from more than 20 different states.

The office also offers a slew of previously recorded events, including information sessions about a number of degree programs, campus housing, and a live chat with University President Jay Golden. There’s also an information session in Spanish on the site. 

Gandu said he wants to make the college admissions process something special for incoming students. 

“They don’t get to enjoy prom, they don’t get to enjoy graduation ceremonies, they don’t get to enjoy senior skip day, because we all think back on those experiences as high school seniors,” Gandu said. “Those were really meaningful activities in our lives, so we feel bad that they don’t get to experience those things.”

National College Signing Day was May 1. It’s a day when many high school seniors formally announce the college they plan to attend.

“We coordinated a social media contest where we encouraged high school seniors planning to attend Wichita State this fall to come up with creative posts,” Gandu said. “Students roared forward with great responses, with 100+ unique posts via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.”

Gandu said virtual events will remain a fixture for the admissions team and prospective students, even if a successful treatment for COVID-19 is identified soon. 

“We see the virtual events as a way to give students a foundation on what Wichita State offers, giving them a taste of why they need to come visit our campus,” Gandu said.