Prospective students partake in a new age of admissions

By Adil Alvi

The admissions office is located at the historic Emma Willard House, named for the pioneer in women’s education who resided there and established a school for girls in her home. (Van Barth)

With many colleges and universities now off limits to visitors, prospective students for the classes of 2025 and 2025.5 are navigating new ways to explore college campuses. Middlebury’s phase-based reopening plan will not allow for any admissions visits or tours on campus until Phase Three — at the earliest. In the meantime, the Admissions Office is providing alternative ways for high school students to learn about Middlebury and get a feel for the college.

“The admissions office is working to meet students where they currently are, and because we’re not offering on-campus opportunities, that means we’re doing a whole host of virtual and remote experiences for students so that they can connect with faculty, staff and students,” Dean of Admissions Nicole Curvin said.

In a normal year, Curvin travels to high schools to engage with students. But this isn’t a normal year, and Curvin, along with other members of the admissions office, will not be leaving the Middlebury area.

However, without travel, admissions officers and student employees have been hard at work for months to build a virtual Middlebury for prospective students to explore. 

“The pandemic, and not being able to travel as we usually do in the fall, has pushed us to do some things that we probably could’ve and should’ve been doing for a long time,” Director of Admissions Sam Prouty said.

In place of a typical map with street names and labelled buildings, the admissions website now features an interactive campus map depicting the lush greenery of Vermont and the infrastructure on campus. 

In addition to this new way to “tour” Middlebury’s campus, a panel of students and faculty meet weekly to offer prospective students a taste of the programs available at the college. These webinars are recorded, making them available to students across different time zones. 

“We’re certainly seeing a lot of good engagement with our webinars,” Curvin said. 

Current students still play an active part of the admissions process. Senior Admissions Fellows, a group of senior students who conduct information sessions and assist with admissions programming, serve as “the main conduit between the admissions office and the public,” according to Prouty. These students offer prospective students personal insight into their own lives at Middlebury.

“It’s been incredible to see that, because we’re online, it’s a more equal playing field. You don’t need to book a flight or have a parent travel to Middlebury, Vermont with you,” Senior Admissions Fellow Julia Sinton ’20.5 said. “That eliminates the time and cost it would take to come visit in a normal year.”

Senior Admissions Fellows reflect on and talk about their experiences with future applicants and their families during virtual information sessions. These programs allow for international students, many of whom cannot visit campus even during a normal year, to view campus from the same lens as other prospective students.  

“I think that will actually allow us to reach potentially even more students than we have traditionally, because now if you can’t get to Middlebury or we can’t get to you, we have a whole lot of programming that in the past has been sparse.” Prouty said.