Running admissions in a time of pandemic

How USC Rossier is keeping enrollment smooth during a difficult time

By Ross Brenneman

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues throughout the world, prospective students continue to navigate admissions processes.

At the USC Rossier School of Education, enrollment and admissions officers are continuing to pivot strategies and outreach as needed based on the developments of COVID-19.

“We are sensitive to the challenges and concerns students are facing during this crisis,” said Tabitha Courtney, the assistant dean and executive director for the office of strategic enrollment services at USC Rossier. “While we are deploying strategies across programs, we also are working with applicants on a case-by-case basis.”

Here are the actions USC Rossier has taken so far:

In-person events: While in-person events have been cancelled, many are being rolled out online, with the goal of replicating as much of the traditional experience as possible:

  • MAT Preview Day: Moved online with two panels
  • MFT Interview Day Round III: These interviews will move online, and the school will put work to put panels online as well.
  • EDL Lunch and Learn: Working to schedule alumni to speak in an online format
  • PASA /EC Preview Day: Conducted all graduate assistantship interviews virtually and are planning to host panels virtually
  • EDL Admitted Student Dinner and Masters Admitted Student Dinner: Our team is thinking of ways to bring students together, although program-by-program options are also being explored
  • EDL Brunch: This program won’t move online, as a networking-only event with no speaker

Webinars: Each program has one webinar a month that is a general-information session for recruiting purposes and these events will continue as planned.

1:1 Consultations: Every staff member has a personalized Zoom Room to conduct consultations so that not all communication will happen over phone or email. “We are doing our best to keep a human element during this time with no in-person events,” Courtney said.

Application deadlines (domestic): The Round III application deadline is March 15th.  USC Rossier will then move to “rolling admissions” for EDL, EDL online, EC, PASA, EMP, LDT and MAT with a deadline of June 14. This means that admission decisions will be sent to applicants every 3-4 weeks rather than a posted deadline.  Since MFT is a summer-start program, this program has one final deadline of May 1.  After the rolling application deadline, USC Rossier will have one final deadline for domestic students applying to these programs of July 1.

Application deadlines (international): All international applicants will have until April 15 to complete their applications. In order to allow these applicants as much as time possible to secure financial documents needed to receive an I20, USC Rossier will begin sending admission decisions to MAT-TESOL students every Friday beginning on Friday, March 20. USC Rossier has also extended certification deadlines for MAT-TESOL admitted students to May 29, giving these students as much time as possible to complete the requirements needed for enrollment. School officers are in constant contact with a USC representative located in China who is assisting with outreach to students via phone calling, posting to the USC WeChat account and webinars.

Application fee waivers: The recruitment team is offering application fee waivers to students who express concerns or challenges during the application process, related or not related to COVID-19.

Completing incomplete applications: “A new strategy we are implementing is texting students with what they are missing in their application file so we can complete files by deadlines to review,” Courtney said.

Enrollment Checklists: The school has been working with programs office staff to send out automated communication to admitted students upon certification to direct them with next steps.

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