As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed in 2020, Long Island higher education institutions made significant adjustments in their admissions processes and engagement activities to accommodate students who elected to attend college locally due to uncertainty, financial issues, and other challenges.
With the spring semester about to begin, New York Tech Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Karen Vahey joined a panel of enrollment experts from Molloy College, Adelphi University, and Nassau Community College to discuss the topic of “Staying Local for College” during a Herald LI Live webinar on January 7, 2021.
The pandemic created an unprecedented situation for higher education institutions, requiring schools to pivot quickly to protect the safety of their students and faculty, support high school applicants in the admissions process, and ensure that current students received the full college experience. Empathy and flexibility were the keys to navigate the new landscape of higher education with students and their families.
“New York Tech came out very early, in the summer, with a decision to go hybrid in the fall, so our current students had the opportunity to move their schedules around, and incoming students had the opportunity to choose an online or hybrid model before they registered for classes,” Vahey said in explaining how New York Tech used a strategic approached the fall semester to support the student experience while ensuring their safety.
As virtual learning took the place of traditional lectures to mitigate the health risks of the pandemic, coupled with concerns about living in on-campus housing, some students made the decision to stay home for their fall semester in 2020. The panel noted that a significant number from this group have remained for the spring semester 2021 and possibly into Fall 2021.
Vahey noted the advantage that NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine brings to New York Tech and the fact that “we have a CMO [chief medical officer] who is a doctor and has a master’s degree in public health so that we had his guidance throughout all of this.”
This unique situation offers new opportunities to attract traditional and non-traditional students; many of who seek micro-credentials, professional skills, and retraining. Colleges have used this time to rethink the best practices to support students financially and personally while continuing to ensure student success in their learning and educational development.
In addressing concerns related to the double-digit decline in applications from first-gen students and students who have high financial needs, Vahey said, “as a first gen-student who was a full Pell student, I feel compelled to advocate for these students to let them know college is still within reach. You may be struggling financially, or mentally with this pandemic but we are here to get you through.”
The panel ended on a hopeful note, citing lessons learned during the pandemic and positive changes that may remain, including more virtual events and improved use of technology inside and outside the classroom.
Panelists for the webinar, sponsored by New York Tech, Molloy, and Adelphi, were:
- Karen Vahey, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Enrollment Management, New York Institute of Technology
- Kristen Capezza, Vice President of Enrollment Management and University Communications, Adelphi University
- Dave Follick, Dean of Admissions, Nassau Community College
- Marguerite Lane, M.A., Assistant Vice President, Enrollment Management, Molloy College
Watch the webinar:
By Carol Lane