The University of Virginia has created several new ways for students accepted to the Class of 2024 to learn more about academics, extracurricular activities and student life at the University with a new, virtual “Days on the Lawn” in the age of coronavirus.
Students can choose from a raft of Zoom webinars, including several academic sessions that will introduce accepted students, now and in the coming weeks, to UVA’s undergraduate schools.
- The College of Arts and Sciences.
- The School of Engineering and Applied Science.
- The School of Nursing.
- The School of Architecture.
- The Curry School of Education and Human Development.
- The McIntire School of Commerce.
- The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
- The School of Data Science.
To join an academic session for the school to which they were accepted, students need only click a link to a live Zoom webinar applicable to them. If the link to the webinar you are interested in is not yet live, check back closer to the date of the event so you can join your desired session. Students accepted to the School of Nursing will receive email invitations to join webinars.
In addition to academic sessions, the Office of Admission is also offering student life sessions with representatives of groups including Residence Life, the Cavalier Marching Band and Echols Scholars, as well as a general panel of current students.
Parents of accepted students can also tune in for an information session that includes representatives from dining, the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services. That Zoom webinar is scheduled for April 22 at 6 p.m.
A current schedule with sign-up options for all webinars is available here.
On Monday, Jeannine Lalonde, an associate dean of admission who, as “Dean J,” runs UVA’s popular admissions blog, “Notes from Peabody,” moderated a College of Arts & Sciences session. She was joined by six faculty members, including Rachel Most, an associate dean and professor of archeology, and Sarah Kucenas, a professor of biology and the director of the Distinguished Major Program in Biology.
“We want to help you grow,” Kucenas told students in the webinar, urging them, “Use us and all our knowledge and connections!”
All of this engagement would have ordinarily happened during the Office of Admission’s massive welcome program, known as “Days on the Lawn.” Each year, UVA normally welcomes 4,000 to 5,000 students to Grounds for the events, which were to happen over six different days this spring.
Those plans had to be cancelled when UVA announced last month that all face-to-face programming must cease because of the coronavirus.
Lalonde said Rachel Schlachter, a senior admission dean, and Kristen Greer, an assistant dean, moved everything online in just two weeks’ time.
“It’s pretty amazing that when the call was made, they turned around and really just started going down the list to try to get every single session that we had planned into a virtual format,” she said.
The goal was to pivot fast, while still “giving students the connection they need,” Lalonde said.
“I think what has been really inspiring is the way the team has been innovative and creative, and also this realization that doing a virtual program has merit,” Assistant Dean Macy Lenox said. “Obviously, we would rather have people on Grounds, but every year there will be people who are not going to be able to make it to Grounds.” Lenox predicted that in future years, UVA will plan on having a virtual component to Days on the Lawn.
For now, Lalonde and Lenox are encouraging accepted students (and parents) to join the appropriate Zoom sessions and to talk with current students.
“Use your resources,” Lalonde said. “So many departments and schools within UVA – student organizations, teams – have social media accounts,” so accepted students should reach out.
“If they already have interests on the extracurricular side, they should be looking up those accounts and not just looking at what they are posting right now, but look at what they’ve posted in the past year,” Lalonde said. “Also, from what I see, students are very quick to reply to direct messages on Instagram.”
“Open house programs in the spring, after admission offers have been released, are critical for most admission offices,” Greg Roberts, dean of admission, said. “Not only do our Days on the Lawn programs provide an opportunity for admitted students and families to get their questions answered and hear about exciting programs and opportunities, they give our guests the chance to get a feel for the Grounds and our community and culture.
“As we began designing the virtual programs, our intention was to find ways to best connect our students and faculty and alumni with prospective students, across various platforms. Picking a college is highly personal and it can be emotional. Our hope is that these events will offer a personal glimpse of what makes this University and our community special and we hope this will be attractive to students who have excellent college options to choose from.”
So accepted students, check out all UVA has to offer, from the new, student-run TikTok account, to a student-run virtual tour of Grounds, to UVA’s “Student Experience” website. There is also a new "Welcome to Virtual Grounds" page, all designed to give you the virtual welcome we wish we could offer in person.