Virtual Admissions

by Ibukun Owolabi


December 14, 2020
A panel of BUA students answered questions from prospective students at a virtual open house on December 1. Ms. Hakimi for The Scarlet Letter

The stretch of months from October to March, known as admission season, marks one of the most important times for students seeking to apply to independent schools. Many students remember their own experience with applying to high school and occasionally look back at it. Now that we’re in the midst of another virtual admissions season, I asked some of my fellow freshman to reflect on their experiences with virtual admissions and interviewed the BUA admissions team.

Therese Draper ‘24 says that she found her shadow day to be the most helpful admissions event out of the many that she attended during her application process. She then has some concerns about the virtual admissions process for students applying to BUA this year: “I don’t think they’ll really get a feel for how it should be here.” While Therese was fortunate enough to get an in-person shadow day, some other members of the Class of 2024 attended shadow days during the months of quarantine and so experienced BUA classes virtually. David Sadka ‘24, one of such students, remembers sitting in on a calculus class during his remote shadow day in June. While he feels that the class was very informative and well-led, he does think that it would have been better if he “could talk to the teacher one-on-one.”

The changes necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic continue to shape the admissions process this year. It has moved to a completely virtual platform. On December 1, the admissions team held a virtual open house for students applying to BUA. I was part of the student panel and assisted Mr. Stone in the questions and answers portion pertaining to the Athletics Department. The open house was a webinar, and the panel answered questions asked by the attendees. Common questions asked include: is this school year normal? How is the remote transition from eighth to ninth grade? In this surely unusual year, the BUA admissions team has not deviated from one aim: as always, they hope to ensure that prospective students have the best experience possible. 

For more information on how the admissions process is now being conducted at BUA, I reached out to Ms. Hakimi, BUA’s Director of Admission, and Ms. Shannon, BUA’s Associate Director of Admission. The following segment consists of a series of questions that I asked and the responses from the admissions team.

How do you plan to conduct revisit days?

We are operating under the assumption that it is probably a pipe-dream for us to host large groups of visitors on campus in March, so if we are unable to do that, we plan to [do several things]: host virtual panels of current students, teachers, parents, and alumni so that families hear from all the different constituent groups at BUA; continue to share webinar recordings and our virtual tour so that families have a visual of what our building looks like; offer the opportunity to Zoom into live classes at BUA; offer opportunities for applicants and their parents to connect one-on-one with members of our community to ask questions; and probably [organize] more fun stuff that we’ll think of in the next few months!

Are interviews easier to conduct now that they are virtual?

[There is now] time to interview more families during the weekend and evenings, and it’s easier for families because they do not have to commute. There are some things that can be a little bit more challenging: technology issues might naturally come up, it can take longer to make some students feel comfortable in the Zoom setting, and we usually have less time with the students than we would have if they spent the day at BUA, which is sad! 

How is the admissions team fielding questions about the impact of the coronavirus on admissions?

We have been doing a mix of sharing information in email newsletters and also filming short video clips for families that we will share through email and on social media. And on our website, we have many FAQs about the coronavirus. We have also trained our tour guides to speak about their school experiences during the coronavirus times.

Is the admission team taking into account the fact that the coronavirus can affect admissions?

Yes! Our keyword this year is flexibility! We recognize that families are stressed about their applications this year — transcripts, teacher recommendations, and school offerings might be thin or not offered at all, and we understand this. We have been very understanding, and we have been helping families substitute materials with things they can get access to, whenever possible. That being said, we are still looking to enroll a class of curious and kind students — we will be reaching out to families directly when we need additional information or clarification.

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