Online visits and remote info sessions: admissions transitions to virtual programming


penn-admissions-office-claudia-cohen-hall
Admissions information sessions and campus tours will continue to be based at the visitor center in Cohen Hall once campus reopens.
Credit: Gianna Ferrarin

As current Penn students and professors struggle with the shift to virtual learning, the admissions team continues to recruit new students, even in an uncertain future for the school and the nation.

Aside from the University-wide switch to remote operations, the last six months have been marked by significant change for the Admissions department. They quickly expanded their virtual programming, prepared to move to a new office space on Market Street, and announced that Dean of Admissions Eric Furda will leave Penn at the end of the year after leading the department for 12 years.

Because the admissions office is independent from academic operations, they have had more flexibility over their programming during the pandemic. The office has worked closely with Kite and Key to develop virtual programming events to encourage admitted and prospective students to engage with Penn online. 

“Although we’re not on the academic schedule, we’re certainly mindful of it. Think about the faculty that you are learning from right now. It’s just that everything that happened over the summer needed to take place in order for that to happen,”  Furda said.

The admissions office decided back in March that their fall programming – like tours and information sessions, as well as traveling to speak at high schools – would be virtual, five months before the University announced that the fall semester would be entirely remote.   

“We probably had an opportunity to be even more proactive because the decisions that we were making were not going to impact 10,000 undergraduates. So, early on, we were able to really say ‘we know we’re not going to be able to travel in the fall,’” Furda said.