The COVID-19 pandemic will impact the UR experience of students who haven’t enrolled yet.

While much of the incoming Class of 2024 saw a move to online learning just weeks before the deadline to enroll, prospective applicants for the Class of 2025 face a rapidly-changing admissions landscape.

Director of Admissions Jason Nevinger wrote in an email to the Campus Times that efforts to recruit the Class of 2025 have changed “in almost every way, and that isn’t hyperbole.”

According to Nevinger, most prospective students usually visit campus in the middle of the spring semester or in the summer, which is no longer possible. Instead, Admissions developed  online alternatives. A virtual campus tour shows students around River Campus. Virtual interviews are available for prospective members of the Class of 2025. Finally, virtual information sessions and admissions workshops are scheduled from April through June.

“I’ve been humbled and proud of how hard our Admissions, Financial Aid and Enrollment staff have worked to move all of our admissions interaction opportunities online,” Nevinger wrote. He later added, “These will all continue throughout the summer and I suspect that when the time comes and we are able to transition back to our important and invaluable approach of connecting with prospective students and families face to face, we’ll continue to offer our online opportunities that have worked so well in the past few months.”

But it is still uncertain to Admissions whether high schools will, in the upcoming year, allow admissions counsellors to visit, or whether college fairs will occur.

Nevinger expects that evaluating applicants will be the least difficult part of adjusting Admissions to the new reality, especially because last summer, UR adopted a test-optional policy that allows students to apply without standardized testing.

However, he believes that high schools may have a variety of grading systems, which could take extra effort for Admissions to navigate. “The degree to which the Office of Admissions staff has employed a truly holistic approach to evaluating applicants will serve us very well to navigate applicants who have been impacted by the world-wide pandemic,” he wrote.

According to Nevinger, there has been a marginal uptick in students enrolled for Fall 2020 opting to take a gap year instead. “That isn’t to say that we haven’t had a number of questions about this as an option for recently accepted/enrolled students,” Nevinger wrote. On the other hand, Nevinger wrote that one student who had planned to take a gap year re-enrolled since their program was cancelled.

For the incoming class of 2024, there remains some uncertainty about orientation. On May 1, Provost Rob Clark reaffirmed UR’s intention to hold orientation on campus. However, the Admissions FAQ page recognizes that “some students are concerned that they may not be able to arrive to campus on time given visa related issues, travel restrictions, and other concerns.” As a result, in the event that some students are unable to be on campus at the start of next semester, enough courses will be offered online for students to be enrolled full-time.

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