In digital world, admissions pushes face-to-face talks

Get offline.

That’s the message the University’s top admissions official is telling her recruiters while they criss-cross the country hailing GW to the Class of 2016.

The University is reevaluating how it reaches prospective students in an increasingly digital world increasingly promoting itself through face-to-face interactions, Associate Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Kathryn Napper said.

“Everything that admissions officers do has to be fluid because everything’s always changing,” she said.

High school students are bombarded with e-mails, Facebook updates and tweets from colleges, a driving factor in the decision to increase in-person outreach, Napper said.

These digital avenues of attracting students are crowded and too easily ignored, Napper said.

“How do I get to you if I don’t know you exist, if you’re not going to read my e-mail, you’re not going to go to my Facebook?” she asked.

The Admissions Office will launch 27 “GW on the Road” information sessions this fall in its major market areas – mainly the Northeast and California – to combat the digital information overload.

This year, GW re-established admissions outreach programs in South America, after a long break from recruiting in the region. These efforts reflect the University’s goals of “being more of a global institution,” Napper said.

Admissions officers will continue to meet with high school guidance counselors, who play a key role in promoting the University to potential students, Napper said.

“First off, [we will] keep doing what we’ve been doing and have multiple avenues in place, be as real as possible in our communication and rely on the reputation that we have,” she said. “We’re still going to travel, we’re still having events. We need to make sure that those students that come to visit are getting the best experience.”

Despite the ease of ignoring digital communication, Napper said the admissions officers continue to use Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

“Reaching out to students through social media is definitely happening more and more,” Chronicle for Higher Education technology senior editor Josh Fischman said.

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