Like everything else, the admissions office has been forced to adapt and change its procedures to match the current pandemic environment.
Back in October, The Index covered such changes, including a new interactive campus map along with meeting prospective families online through Google Meet. Since then, the admissions office has begun holding student-led in-person tours on the weekends as a way for these families to interact with and learn more about the school.
“I think it’s been a challenging year not having the ability to meet most prospective students in person,” Director of Admissions Mr. Donta Evans said. “You can obviously look at scores and teacher recommendations and report cards, but to not sit across from someone and look them in the eye and see how they react to certain questions and how they interact with other students and teachers made it a little bit more challenging for us in terms of not having as much information in making our decisions as usual.”
Still, virtual meetings have their benefits and going forward will remain commonplace during the admissions process, even after COVID, with faculty and staff using it as a way to meet with families who may live far away or are unable to make certain events due to conflicts. One group of students this format will benefit moving forward is those living internationally. Unable to easily visit themselves, meeting through Google Meet will be simpler for them to communicate and understand the school. With international applications not permitted this year, the system was not yet put to the test, but by next year the admissions office should have a better idea of its problems and potential successes.
Even without international applications, the school did not see a significant drop in total applications. In fact, overall—across the upper, middle, and lower divisions—applications were down just 3.4% compared to last year.
Still, there was one noticeable difference from previous years. Normally, the majority of applications come in during the period between August and November, yet by November of this past year, applications were down 15%. Not until the period between December and February did applications bounce back and gave the admissions office more comfort heading into this upcoming school year.
With the hopes of reaching other markets of students and potential families where Haverford may not have as strong of a reach, in February the admissions office released their first-ever television commercial.
“There are all different types of advertising but more people, because of the pandemic, have been watching TV than ever before, so we saw this as an opportunity to share Haverford’s story in a different way than we’ve done before,” Mr. Evans said.
Results from the first airings of the commercial should be available soon. Additionally, every Haverford application has a field where families can enter where they first learned of the school. As of right now, the most popular response is word of mouth.
“We’re certainly looking forward to things returning to as normal as possible next year.”Director of Admissions Mr. Donta Evans
Some concerns did arise about what student retention would look like this year, but Mr. Evans reported a 96% retention rate for both this year and last year. A big draw to Haverford in Mr. Evans’ eyes, is how well the school has adapted to the pandemic. Not many institutions are running in-person classes five days a week and most families are excited about that, Mr. Evans said. Furthermore, Haverford was able to help a number of families financially impacted by COVID to make sure their boys can continue attending school.
In this challenging year for all parts of the school, Mr. Evans and the rest of the admissions office feel satisfied with how they adapted.
“We think we provided a really good experience virtually for families, gave them lots of options, opportunities to meet different people and learn about the school,” Mr. Evans said. “But we’re certainly looking forward to things returning to as normal as possible next year.”