Just days prior to my daughter’s Accepted Student Day at her first-choice college, the news reported a student-on-student murder there in an off-campus apartment. I wondered if the college would pretend that the murder didn’t happen, try to gloss it over, make a big deal about it, or something in between. In short, the college president stood before the audience of rising first-year students and their loved ones and took the issue head-on. It happened, they were devastated and in mourning, they were cooperating with authorities, and here’s where we can view their crime statistics to affirm that it was indeed a very safe campus. Tell the truth, accept and report the facts, let people know how you are affected by the crisis and what you aredoing about in your campus community.
Events outside of your control can happen in the crucial yield season before May 1. Maybe your opportunity to “wow” admitted applicants was just taken away. But remember – events are not the sole reason you do or don’t make your enrollment goals.
You control your enrollment numbers in more important ways. During a crisis, do you double down on your outreach via phone, text and/or email or do you hide from the outside world? I’d choose the former. Your admits and their parents/guardians need you more than ever because they have questions that, absent your answers, will be formed without your influence.
If you aren’t allowed to have events on your campus due to some crisis, can you hold them virtually? Might you create a series of mini-virtual open houses focused on groups of majors, co-curricular activities, support services, etc.? Without the need to come to campus, might those increase your exposure to admits even more than a single event? Might you remind your students that they can call the Financial Aid and/or Admissions Offices to have their aid award questions directly and privately answered? There is a lot you can control without having to fill balloons with helium, stuff packets and pass out t-shirts.