With the suspension of this year’s Spring Open House, the COVID-19 pandemic may temporarily prevent the next generation of Brock University students from experiencing its green campus, world-class facilities, student residences and friendly atmosphere in person. But a little creativity is going a long way in offering the next best thing.
The University is hosting a Virtual Open House, which will go live for prospective students and their families on Monday, April 27. It will be hosted online until June 1, aligning with the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) deadline for accepting offers of admission.
Matt Melnyk, Director, Student Recruitment, knows first-hand the important role visiting a university in-person can play.
“Coming to campus is a huge deciding factor for prospective students, so not being able to host our traditional Open House is challenging — for us, but more importantly, for them,” says Melnyk. “The purpose of a physical Open House is for students to get a sense of what the Brock community and experience is all about.”
Despite the physical challenges presented by COVID-19, the Recruitment team is working hard to provide prospective students with an online version of the community they’d be interacting with through a series of digital experiences.
A virtual campus tour is already live featuring 360 degree views of the nature-clad campus, set atop the Niagara Escarpment within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The Open House is set to include live chat sessions with staff from the Office of the Registrar in addition to ongoing chat sessions available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, as well as Instagram Q&A sessions and virtual meetings through the video conferencing system Lifesize with recruitment officers.
The team is also conducting webinars, with the first slated for Wednesday, April 15 at 2 p.m., with designated themes such as finance, student awards and orientation.
Melnyk says the first week of virtual meetings offered between prospective students and recruitment officers garnered more than 100 meetings in addition to the high volume of daily inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
He says this demonstrates the growing interest high school students have in pursuing their academic careers at Brock and the passion they have when they come here. The Recruitment team has received a flurry of help from current students who want to convince prospective students why Brock is the right decision.
“It’s no secret that our students are incredibly engaged,” he says. “We’ve received an outpouring of interest and enthusiasm from students who really want to share their Brock story and experience.”
Recruitment is also asking for input from academic colleagues to contribute relevant and engaging content to the Virtual Open House event. Anyone interested in contributing to the Virtual Open House is encouraged to contact Carly Dugo, Recruitment Officer, Campus Initiatives, at email@example.com
“We’re truly appreciative of everyone’s efforts in making this experience come together,” says Melnyk. “People are really open to sharing their great ideas. Some departments and units are supplying us with imagery of their facilities as well as lectures. Any and all ideas are welcome.”
While the ongoing global pandemic has forced much of the Brock community to dramatically revise the way it operates, it has also shown its ability to be agile, resilient and innovative in a fast-paced world.
“It’s been pretty clear every step of the way that the success of the students has been put first,” says Melnyk. “I’m very thankful to our team and the University as a whole. We’re always striving to be as available and accessible to our students, including prospective students, as we can be.”