Working together to welcome incoming students

Sign inside the CUB at WSU Pullman promoting social distancing.
WSU Pullman campus open in a limited capacity in response to COVID‑19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created recruiting challenges for the upcoming fall semester and while WSU is adjusting deadlines and turning to technology to meet the challenge, it’s also looking for help from faculty and staff.

Several virtual experiences, presentations and opportunities for personal interactions have been implemented. More than 1000 events have already taken place since in-person activities were suspended. In addition, recruitment staff across the system have participated in online and virtual district, state, and national high school and community college fairs. Faculty and staff are also contributing to recruitment efforts by providing opportunities for admitted students to connect with faculty and current students in their desired field of study.

Several colleges have initiated calling campaigns, and academic presentations to provide an added layer of information, assurance and support. A full list of scheduled experiences for prospective WSU students can be found online.

Departments interested in getting involved can email, or Michelle Lewis, assistant vice president, Enrollment Planning, at

These efforts will contribute to the university’s efforts to maintain frequent contact with admitted students and their families, ensuring they have the latest information on the university’s plans for the fall. Much of the traditional college exploration experience has been brought online, with twice daily presentations as well as admitted student workshops and virtual appointments with advisors and officials from across the university. The first of a series of Parent Information Forums will be hosted on May 14 and will address common questions/concerns coming from parents and supporters of our Future Cougs.

“We are continuing to build on these efforts throughout the summer,” Lewis said.

Each WSU campus has implemented similar enrollment management strategies and are working to assist incoming students.

The Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture is among the colleges that’ve launched partnerships with Enrollment Management in an effort to reach prospective students and answer their questions. It’s created a virtual tour taking prospective students through the student experience, including an overview of available resources. A number of faculty have also stepped up to answer student questions in one on one sessions.

“This is a challenge that really requires us to think outside the box,” said Brett Stav, Voiland College’s director of marketing. “Members of our faculty and staff, alongside Enrollment Management and other colleges are seeing this as an opportunity to think of innovative ways of showing to prospective students what WSU is all about.”

Many students use their campus visits to connect with academic departments they are interested in, so faculty and staff reaching out can make a big difference while these visits aren’t possible, Randi Niehenke, associate director of the Office of Admissions and Recruitment, said.

“Expect to answer questions about requirements for graduation, including the courses students need to take,” Niehenke said. “Students during this uncertain time want to feel heard, and getting back to them quickly with answers can help to relieve the stress they are feeling.”

Many students express concerns about what the fall semester will look like. WSU President Kirk Schulz has sought to relieve some of that anxiety by announcing that the university is planning for a return to in-person instruction for Fall 2020, though adjustments may need to be made in concert with recommendations from health officials.

“While some aspects of the college experience might not look exactly the same this fall as they traditionally do, we are constantly communicating to students and their families the value of the WSU experience,” Lewis said.

Faculty and staff can help to address student concerns by reaffirming Schulz’s plans concerning the fall semester. They can also point out that WSU has already adapted to the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, moving instruction online rapidly and ensuring students continue to have a robust educational experience.

Finally, those in contact with students and their families can point them to valuable resources like Academic Advising, Admissions, and the university’s COVID-19 website for the latest information on the university’s continued response. More information on new student orientation programs can also be found on the WSU Alive website.

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