With classes online and most Lehigh students home, admitted students are unable to take tours or attend events which Lehigh has planned for the remainder of the semester.
Lehigh’s annual D-Life, a diversity life weekend conducted by the Admissions Ambassadors Club, has also been impacted.
This program is for admitted students who are attending Lehigh in the fall, or are prospective students and are still choosing between schools.
Yamelin Jaquez, ‘22, a member of the Admissions Ambassadors Club, describes the weekend as an essential way to learn more about campus, and talk to students and staff while partaking in school events.
Jaquez said students would typically have group leaders or hosts who are on the Admissions Ambassadors Club, and get to participate in activities such as barbeques and the annual D-Life gala.
Typically, there are approximately 80-100 admitted students who attend this program each year.
The reason for this program is for incoming students to physically come to Lehigh and experience it in person, but it is unable to take place this year, Jaquez said. She noted that although the event will not be happening, there will be video calls available for the students to ask any questions they may have about Lehigh.
Alda Saba, ‘21, another member of the Admissions Ambassadors Club, said D-Life is one of their most successful events and a reason why admitted students commit to Lehigh.
“My biggest concern is losing diversity in the next class of students by not having this event,” Saba said.
She said the cancellation of this event will deprive students of the opportunity to visit Lehigh.
“Many of these students wouldn’t have been able to visit Lehigh any other way due to money or distance reasons,” Saba said. “Therefore, a lot of students will never be able to see what Lehigh truly has to offer.”
Bruce Bunnick, the director for admissions, said the admissions office has hired an online vendor that will allow them to create content and have sponsors for these student events in a virtual environment.
“This new program we are using is called Wisr,” Bunnick said. “Other institutions such as Yale, University of Chicago (and) Washington University are also using this program, since student events have been wiped out almost all across the country.”
Wisr, a software company, is allowing the admissions office to create different communities and different content for the admitted students, Bunnick said.
Admitted students will receive an email from Wisr containing a URL that will allow them to participate in these admitted student events.
“The benefit of this program is that in our ‘normal’ way of life, we would be limited to the number of days that we could host people through campus,” Bunnick said. “Wisr will allow us to do admitted student activities every single day.”
The students will be able to go into the program and find what communities they are interested in, such as social activities, research, and study abroad, Bunnick said.
Any questions that prospective students have will be answered by solicited faculty members and students of Lehigh.
The admissions office has also solicited other campus members, like those of the Pride Center and Office of First Year Experience, Bunnick said.
“One of our biggest concerns is always the number of students who decide to enroll regardless of COVID-19,” Bunnick said. “We are trying to maximize the number of students who are admitted and ultimately deciding to attend Lehigh.”
Bunnick said Lehigh has been cognizant of the admitted international students planning to attend Lehigh.
“We are greatly concerned about the international students, and whether or not they will be able to get into the country,” Bunnick said. “As quarantine and self-isolation becomes more intense, we are somewhat confident as an office that roughly 10 percent of the freshman class that are international will not be able to get to Lehigh.”
The admissions office is still exploring opportunities for these international students who are in their countries, Bunnick said.
“We are not being flat-footed about this issue, and are taking it very seriously,” Bunnick said.
He said Lehigh offers various informative YouTube videos and virtual tours for all the admitted students who are unable to come to campus, and want to learn more about the university.