Masters through a Screen; the Virtual Prospective Student Experience


Andrew Mitchell

Nate Meyer’22 talks with prospective families as a Gold Key ambassador. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Admissions as Masters has moved most of their programs online, include remote Q&A panels and virtual tours with voiceovers from members of Gold Key club.

Andrew Mitchell, Sports Editor

In a “typical” school year, the fall marks a time when schools, colleges and universities open their doors to prospective students from all across the globe. However, now in a time of closed doors and masked faces, many educational institutions, including Masters, have moved this experience online. 

Senior Associate Director of Admissions Tim Custer said, “Traditionally, touring campus is a pretty critical piece of our whole approach and now that is off the table for an indefinite period of time.” 

In their place, a series of virtual tours narrated by Gold Key members have been uploaded to the admissions home page. While the experience of in-person tours can not be perfectly replicated, the video footage encompasses drone perspectives of the Masters exterior, to inside the classroom. 

Gold Key Co-chair Ariella Uribe ‘21 explained, “There is a Gold Key ambassador talking about each place and what it means to them, just to get a glimpse of campus.” 

However, the Masters shown in virtual tours looks very different from the current in-person learning reality, with its many Covid-19 precautions, lack of Harkness Tables and dramatically different dining hall experience. 

Uribe said, “This is not going to be our normal forever, so it is important that prospective families note that our normal experience is not like our current situation.” 

However, many families, in fact, do want to understand what Masters looks like in the present moment. Among prospective families, Covid-19 management and precautions are a “hot topic,” according to Custer. “We have been very upfront.” 

Sophomore Gold Key Panelist Ava Bashew, however, has focused mostly on discussing a pre-pandemic Masters.  “We [panelists] are all better at talking about Masters pre-Covid. That’s what we know.”

Additionally, panels and question and answer sessions have been redesigned to fit a virtual environment. Some of these events, such as the prospective family open house, often welcome hundreds of families to campus. This year, however, all of these events will be available virtually. Custer explained that the virtual setting may allow for even greater attendance than in past years.

Bashew explained that there are benefits to the new online format. “When I was a prospective student and I came to one of the student panels, they all sat on tall chairs in front of what felt like hundreds of people. I would have been terrified. It’s a lot less pressure.”

Custer conveyed that this time of transition for the Admissions Department has led to a lot of creativity. “We have added some additional programming which we have never done in the past. For example, we have some events specifically for students of color and events with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion,” he said.

These programs are designed to help students get a better sense of what it is like to be a student of color at Masters, and what opportunities affinity groups are offered. 

While the mediums of touring and learning about Masters differ from past years, the message of the school remains constant. Gold Key member Sophia Viscarello ‘21 explained during one of the student panels, “Masters is more than the physical place, it’s about the community.” 

Custer echoed that sentiment. “We are scattered in various places obviously, but I think that the community and our “togetherness” is a really important thing to try to convey.”