Admissions prepares for decision day

Tours, ExploreXU days integral to admissions strategy 

By Avery Strychasz, staff writer
Photo courtesy of @xuadmissions via Instagram
Xavier has seen an increased number of applicants for the 2021-2022 school year. The Office of Admissions says that 2020 pandemic-driven gap years as well as fewer standardized test requirements have contributed.

The Office of Admissions is hoping that its unorthodox strategy to work around COVID-19 will pay off as the May 1 admissions deadline approaches.

This year brought one of the largest first-year classes to Xavier’s campus. Now, there is a lot of speculation regarding what the Class of 2025 will look like. 

The national admissions deadline is May 1, so while the impact of this year’s admission trends cannot be fully assessed, according to Dean of Admissions Lauren Parcell, colleges and universities across the nation have seen an increase in the number of applications. 

There are two main factors influencing this uptick. 

First, many students of the  high school graduating class of 2020 took a gap year due to the uncertainty of the college climate during the pandemic. While this is true for many universities, the majority of applicants to Xavier for Fall 2021 have been from the graduating high school class of 2021. 

Second, many universities applied a test-optional policy due to COVID-19, which has allowed high school seniors to apply to schools that might not have accepted them previously due to low standardized test scores.

Xavier has not been immune to these changes. Parcell noted that admissions has seen a slight increase in the number of applications to date.

According to Parcell, one unique thing about the incoming class of 2025 is that they have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. 

Having dealt with the pandemic since the middle of their junior years, many students in the Class of 2025 have missed out on in-person education, in-person school resources and access to extracurriculars. 

Xavier admissions has also experienced the challenge of students lacking access to standardized tests, including both the ACT and the SAT. However, Xavier accounted for this last year, altering admissions policy to become test-optional.

Photo courtesy of @xuadmissions via Instagram
A 2020 Xavier first-year (above) celebrates their commitment to Xavier.

Another challenge other universities faced was the access to admissions tools such as tours. In the face of COVID-19, many universities opted to cancel in-person classes and activities or close down campuses. 

On the contrary, Xavier has made in-person tours a crucial part of Xavier’s admission strategy. Hiring over 85 student ambassadors, the Office of Admissions relied on these students to be the face of Xavier for prospective first-years. 

The interaction between student ambassadors, incoming students and parents is a key factor in how Xavier has attracted potential students in the college decision process.

Along with traditional tours, the Office of Admissions has hosted a new event for potential students every Saturday and Sunday called Explore XU.

The program was rolled out at the beginning of the spring semester. The Office of Admissions intends to allow students to experience Xavier’s campus in person while still adhering to campus social distancing guidelines. 

“Because of COVID-19, we had to get creative with our campus visitors,” Director of Territory Management Lindsey Stellar said. 

“(Explore XU) is a socially-distanced way to give prospective students the opportunity to come to campus and meet current students,” Steller added.

“We work with students in a way I don’t think they find at other colleges they may be considering,” Parcell said. She credited this both to the work of student ambassadors and the Jesuit values that the Xavier community is built upon. 

Although unable to give specific numbers until the May 1 deadline passes, Parcell stated that their strategy has  proven effective with the incoming first-year class. With the application deadline still being open, Xavier has already amassed a large group of committed students. So far, the incoming class represents 33 states.

With a long-term enrollment plan in place, the admissions office is still at work finding the perfect prospective Xavier students for the Class of 2025.