Much has changed since the last school year, including the beloved Marlin’s Day. This event has traditionally been an opportunity for students and parents to visit the campus and get their first real interactions with current students and faculty members. COVID-19 has since changed the landscape of the open house-style event.
The Virtual Marlin’s Day event occurred on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. via Zoom. Incoming students and their families who registered for the event could access the meetings via the Zoom link they received.
According to Brooke Novkovic, Director of Enrollment for the Batten Honors College, the adjustment of shifting events from an in-person setting to virtual has been successful thus far.
The typical events of a faculty and student Q&A panel, meetings with enrollment counselors, welcome events, students sharing their “why” of becoming marlins, academic fair, tours of campus, and luncheon have been altered slightly. They were held completely over Zoom, with the exception of the luncheon and in-person tours.
Novkovic expressed that even though the normal events could not be held in-person this year, they did their best to make students feel involved and give them as individualized of an experience as possible, given the circumstances.
Part of this mission to get students involved included current Marlins creating videos of “telling their story” to be sent out to prospective VWU students. In addition, she expressed how useful the breakout rooms through Zoom were throughout the Marlin’s Day process.
The breakout room feature was utilized to create small virtual sessions, to imitate the one-on-one experience that the academic fair provided, that represented VWU’s various undergraduate schools and programs, financial aid, sports teams, and student organizations.
Novkovic expressed her excitement about how smoothly this virtual Marlin’s Day went. Over 200 students were in attendance on Oct. 24, 2020.
Additionally, she was excited for the new opportunities that a virtual event could offer. One of them is allowing VWU Global Campus students the first opportunity to be a part of Marlin’s Day. She cited students from Japan that would not have been able to participate at the traditional event.
In addition to the normal virtual Marlin’s Day activities, the Office of Enrollment is holding virtual Batten Honors College information sessions, a transfer student session, informational sessions with a student’s assigned enrollment counselor and adding additional options for students that cannot travel as easily, adding a new layer of accessibility.
Students were pre-assigned sessions that they expressed interest in, Novkovic noted how the virtual experience makes things overall more personal.
Some changes that were made because of COVID-19 restrictions include, conducting smaller tour groups, a stringent mask requirement for all prospective students and all in-person events had an accompanying virtual option.
Novkovic explained that despite the change, current VWU students still have many opportunities to get involved with Marlin’s Days and other events hosted by the Office of Enrollment. She explained that students can still be Student Ambassadors and host prospective student tours. Interested Student Ambassadors can also participate in virtual high school visits.
This gives the opportunity of having a more personalized explanation of the school from a current student. She stated, “[Students] are just as involved as they were before. It’s just a different landscape.”
Alex Leonard, Student Ambassador, stated that prospective students are not able to interact with campus life and happenings at school because of the COVID-19 restrictions. He explained that campus is not as involved in the virtual Marlin’s Day experience, just the “necessities” present information.
Leonard stated the school is trying their best to provide students with the best possible experience. He stated all parties involved are attempting to recreate the genuine experience that would be had if the event were still in-person. He also noted that the Student Ambassadors are still fully operational and providing tours, just to much smaller groups.
By Jack Palmer