Luis Franco: COVID-19 has drastically changed how we recruit

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The COVID-19 crisis has certainly added challenges to all of our jobs. Whether it’s thrust into working from home with spouses and children sharing the same space, or lacking the convenience of tools and resources available at the office, it’s been an adjustment for everyone. But for Luis Franco, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment, the crisis has altered the entire way he and the rest of the UNT Dallas Office of Admissions do their jobs. With high schools and community colleges closed, it’s impossible for Luis and others to meet with students and school counselors face-to-face, or bring prospective students to campus for visits. It is now much more difficult to directly reach prospective students, yet it is crucial to do so since student enrollment is the lifeline of all universities.

Q: How has your team adjusted their processes during this new normal?

A:  I am very proud of our undergraduate admissions team. They are all working hard in this uncertain time to continue their outreach and to process student applications. The various teams in admissions (recruitment, processing, campus visitation and new student orientation) are all leveraging various tools to connect with prospective students and those who have applied to our university. In addition to connecting via email, we are using text messages, phone calls and video conference platforms such as MS Teams, Zoom and Skype to counsel students on navigating the admission process.

Q: Connecting with individual students is important, but also time-consuming. How are you managing to engage large groups of prospective students at once?

A: We are planning virtual information sessions. For example, this past Monday, Caleb Simmons, a UNT Dallas admissions counselor, and I conducted a virtual session with about 45 students and parents in attendance. It was in partnership with Garland ISD as part of their Virtual Money Mondays. This is aprogram they use to share information on topics like applying and paying for college. We are definitely continuing to engage and build personal relationships with students, particularly in this online learning environment.

Q: How is the COVID-19 crisis affecting students’ decisions about enrolling in college?

A: Survey data from various professional admissions organizations reveal that students are still interested in pursuing a college degree; there is a great need to engage students to address questions and concerns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly around their ability to pay for college. Given our affordability, this is an area where UNT Dallas is well-positioned. Making these connections at a personal level is particularly critical for first-generation and underserved students.