LC Admissions During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Zoom Interviews and Tours

Madison Hua '23, Contributor

Loomis Chaffee has made myriads of changes to the LC Admissions Office in order to accommodate the new digital format of interviews, outreach, campus tours, and the application process as a whole. One of the most notable changes for prospective students is Loomis’ decision to go test-optional.

“We have decided that we are going to be test-optional for the next two years. It will be a two year trial for us, and after, we will reassess and see if it is something we want to continue with,” said Director of Admission and Financial Aid Mrs. Nancy Cleary.

The admissions office has considered many factors in this decision. Specifically, the office considered the validity of the SSAT as an evaluation tool and the affordability of the preparation students utilize before taking the test. Applicants are still welcome to submit the test score if they so choose, and the admissions office will still consider that. Nevertheless, the admissions office has no preference for whether or not the student chooses to submit a score.

Another change is the requirement of recommendation letters. In the past, it has been required to have an English and a math recommendation. This year, the admissions office has decided that they will still need those two letters, but they will also allow applicants to submit an optional third recommendation. This will hopefully provide the admissions committee with more information about the student’s academic standing and reputation.

Interviews will be carried out virtually for the entirety of the admissions season. Parental interviews are not required anymore either. Instead at the end of the student interview, the interviewer will offer the prospective family a chance to speak with them separately; but, this is no longer mandatory.

“We are anticipating that some of the time, the parents will be available and want to connect with us. There will be plenty of times where we won’t meet with them, and that’s okay,” said Mrs. Cleary.

However, the parents’ response essays are still required as part of the application, so the hope is that the Admissions office can still use that to gain insight into the applicant’s family.

Outside of the application process, the tour guide program is also seeing enormous changes because of the difficulty of covering all things Loomis related in roughly 25 minutes. Campus tours are extremely important because they are the main way for students to get a feel of the community and the physical school. In order to address this, the admissions office has done extensive research into the best way to give virtual tours.

They have decided to use a PowerPoint format when giving tours rather than simply giving virtual tours where the tour guide will walk around campus showcasing each building. Ultimately, virtual tours in the latter format would showcase a campus with a very different vibe than what it is normal to Loomis (without the effects of coronavirus). Additionally, walkthrough virtual tours of campus would create spacing issues since the capacity of people allowed in a building or classroom is very limited. The powerpoint format for tours has, so far, been relatively successful.

“I was one of the tour guides who gave the first virtual tour of the year, and I had a remarkably positive experience,” Schaefer said. Loomis is a welcoming and friendly community, and the tour guides are still able to share the experience of a lively campus through the screen.

“My only concern is that without in-person contact with families, we might not make as big of an impact on prospective students,” said Schaefer.

However, the Tour Guide program is doing the best they can to provide a program that will still be beneficial for prospective students and families interested in Loomis.

“A method [by which] the virtual tour guides can improve the online experience, is to provide as many personal anecdotes as possible, because that way, the tour guides will hopefully connect more with the people tuning in,” said Anna Rebello ’21, another head tour guide.

The tour guides’ focus is to now make virtual tours seem less like a video recording and more like a person-to-person conversation.

As for the outreach of potential Loomis students, there will be a virtual open house for people to join, financial aid information sessions, and drop-in sessions so that people can get one-on-one questions answered by admission associates.

“The admissions office is putting together a series of events to address different interests in our school. Everything from athletics to residential life to academic programming. [We are also] looking to promote our signature programs like the Norton Center and the Alvord Center,” said Mrs. Cleary.

The school also relies heavily on sports coaches who are communicating with students interested in the athletic program, and the heads of the music, theater, arts, and dance program. The people who run those programs do much recruiting for the admissions office.

The admissions office has spent a lot of hard work into creating the best way for potential students to learn about the Loomis Chaffee campus, given our current situation.