LSU is preparing for what could be a mostly virtual recruitment cycle for high school seniors interested in joining its fall 2020 freshman class, should the COVID-19 outbreak linger into summer.
The flagship university—which closed campus two weeks ago—has already moved Spring Invitational online, with the first session beginning Friday. And, while it’s still “months away from knowing” if such would be necessary, the Office of Enrollment Management has said it would be prepared to host a virtual Welcome Week, scheduled for Aug. 15-23. Before the outbreak spread to Louisiana, LSU was already evaluating whether the STRIPES summer orientation program could be part of Welcome Week.
It’s too early to tell whether such transitions will hurt recruitment efforts, which typically ramp up in late spring and are carried out through the summer, says LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard. However, the university counts on campus recruiting events to help drive up enrollment.
“We are focusing on doing everything we possibly can to serve students, ensure students can have access to our admissions counselors and obtain the critical information to make their final college choice,” Ballard says in a text message. “But we anticipate having another record-breaking, high-quality freshman class in the fall.”
For now, LSU has suspended all campus events through May 30.
So far, the coronavirus hasn’t tangibly impacted enrollment. The number of applications over the past two weeks is about even compared with the same window last year, down just 0.4%, Ballard says.
Whether that changes remains to be seen. Ballard says LSU will have a better idea of its fall enrollment outlook after May 1, which is when enrollment deposits are due.
Meanwhile, LSU is allowing prospective freshmen to register for virtually admitted student days with their planned senior college, meet with their admissions counselor through one-on-one virtual appointments, and take virtual tours of campus and student housing.
Additionally, a number of on-campus units, such as the Center for Academic Success and the Olinde Career Center, are hosting virtual opportunities.