At RaiseMe we’ve always looked to our partners and the higher ed community for guidance, and have found that right now it is especially important to learn from and lean on each other.
That’s why we’re bringing you a special series highlighting insights from regional admissions staff.
Lateishia Spencer, Assistant Director of Admission
What was your role like before COVID-19?
As a regional admissions counselor, not much has changed in my day-to-day work. I spend the majority of my time working from home, while typically spending about 10-11 weeks traveling in the fall and about 2-3 weeks traveling each spring. However, in light of COVID-19, things are currently much different than we imagined and it was important for us to find other ways to connect with students in lieu of in-person visits and college fairs.
What advice do you have for those working remotely?
Remote work calls for you to provide your own structure, which can be difficult to do at times. My top tips for folks currently working from home are: Get dressed – you don’t have to dress as formally as you would in the office, but the simple act of changing clothes serves as a sign that it’s time to wake up and get things done. Try to keep clearly defined working hours – this can be a crucial tip if you live with other people. Communicate with them to establish boundaries so you can cut down on distractions during the workday – and then be sure to disconnect and continue your normal evening routine. Be flexible & give yourself breaks – set an alarm for 25-30 minutes (Pomodoro Technique is a great way to do this) and then take a quick break. It helps you to stay focused and replaces time that might be spent walking around the office or chatting with colleagues. Lastly, continue moving – working from home makes you a lot less active than normal. Try to get in a home workout a few times a week or get outside for a walk, if you can do so safely.
How has the way you communicated with students changed since COVID-19?
The main change in communication has been moving in-person meetings, visits or events to a virtual format. Some events are much easier to convert than others. However, here at Sewanee we’ve been able to put our creativity to the test to come up with ways for students to continue to engage with us virtually in all stages of the college search process.
What tools are you using to engage students in your territory in lieu of in-person meetings and events?
We have expanded on our virtual offerings giving students, parents, and counselors many ways to learn and engage with us this spring. We have created Sewanee Sessions (which are essentially webinars on various topics), we host online Zoom tours, Your Domain calls, virtual student panels, allow students to view class recordings and much more. More specifically within my territory, I have encouraged students to take advantage of our online offerings while increasing communication through email, phone, and text. With RaiseMe, we’ve been able to expand our micro-scholarship offerings to include many of these virtual options. So not only are students still able to engage with us during this time, but they are also able to continue earning!
“With RaiseMe, we’ve been able to expand our micro-scholarship offerings to include many virtual options. So not only are students still able to engage with us during this time, but they are also able to continue earning!”
Lateishia Spencer @SewaneeAdmiss
How are you utilizing your alumni network to help engage students?
Throughout the year we have help from our alumni in reaching out to prospective and admitted students – mainly through phone calls. This has continued during this time and it has been a great way to offer a different perspective to students considering Sewanee.
How are you responding to the needs of students and parents right now?
During this time of uncertainty, we have lowered our deposit amount and are committed to offering flexibility around the May 1 deadline to families on a case-by-case basis.
What has been an important learning for you in the last couple of weeks?
The art of truly being flexible and the importance in going with the flow. In our line of work, we already know that flexibility is an important trait, however, at a time like this it’s more important than ever. It’s such an interesting time in which we have to balance changes in our personal lives with the changes in our work as well. Being flexible allows us to adapt to our changing environment while continuing to be a reliable source for the many students and parents also navigating these times with uncertainties about the future.
“It’s such an interesting time in which we have to balance changes in our personal lives with the changes in our work as well. Being flexible allows us to adapt to our changing environment while continuing to be a reliable source for the many students and parents also navigating these times with uncertainties about the future.”
Lateishia Spencer @SewaneeAdmiss