Virtual admission events move from webinar to live action


Gerson Personnat, Staff Writer

When Director of Enrollment Management Jorge Delgado activated presentation mode on Remo, a web-based video platform, to interview Mary Skelton Roberts P’24 about why her family chose the school in a virtual environment, her dog’s barks echoed in the background and her daughter, Dahlia, appeared onscreen to ask a question about a personal matter.

The moment featured both the challenges and the transparency of a virtual environment, Mr. Delgado said.

“I think it showcased to newly admitted families that BB&N is a place that is real,” he said. “We want to have a loving and caring community that is supportive, and when dogs bark, the computers don’t work, and people barge in on interviews, that is the way of the world, and we just roll right along with it.”

The admission office has hosted 17 similar virtual events since they sent out decisions on March 10, including information sessions, a K-12 parent social, a Grade 9 social, an academic fair, and an extracurricular fair that showcased global education initiatives, clubs, athletics, and the arts. This season, at the request of admitted families, the goal was to include more live virtual events than pre-recorded videos, which they used in 2020, Mr. Delgado said.

“Last year, yield season started just as the world was moving into a largely virtual environment,” he said. “There was a lot of ‘What can we pull together?’ But this year, we had a longer runway to think critically about what would resonate best with the audience and how we could innovate.”

The admission office chose Remo over Zoom for social events since the platform allows for more social interaction through virtual “tables,” between which participants may travel, Mr. Delgado said. Near the end of the enrollment period, the office also hosted conversations on Instagram Live.

For admitted students who identify as Black and/or African American and Hispanic and/or Latinx, a virtual reception replaced the traditionally in-person event.

Upper School (US) Associate Director of Admission Sanchali Biswas said the virtual format did make sharing the school’s culture and environment more difficult than in previous years.

“There is a little bit of something lost when we can’t share the same space,” Ms. Biswas said. “There is a palpable energy at the Upper School, both in the classroom and out, where we can bring our perspective of newly admitted students to campus. That’s the magic of BB&N.”

Mimicking revisit days in past years, the school presented mock classes on Zoom webinars as a preview for prospective students and families. For example, on March 31 US History and Social Sciences Teacher Farah DiPasquale and four students—Rohan Durfee, Emmy Lev, Madera Longstreet-Lipson, and Saanika Raina (all ’23)—conducted a history class simulation, together discussing the legacies of the Atlantic Revolutions through primary source analysis.

Ms. DiPasquale missed the personal connection with prospective students, she said.

“When we had revisit days, you could first actually ask the student for their name and then ask what school they went to and more,” she said. “But the Zoom webinar format made these interactions less possible. You couldn’t even see the students.”

The webinar did, however, show the nature of a BB&N history class, she added.

“The simulation showcased the excellence of our students, the rigor of our courses, and the way they tackle difficult primary sources,” Ms. DiPasquale said. “We weren’t just regurgitating John Locke but picking out themes and ideas by actually diving deep into the text.”

The class also depicted the workload and student commitment accurately, Saanika said.

“If I were an admitted student, I think I’d realize how serious and academic the school is,” she said. “I would see how dedicated I have to be to complete the work that I’m going to be doing.”

On April 6, several clubs— including Speech & Debate, The Vanguard, and Girls Advancing In STEM (GAINS)—participated in a virtual extracurricular fair. Representing Speech & Debate, Alexi Melki ’21 stressed the public speaking skills club members develop.

“In debate, I know that novices tend to get afraid of public speaking,” Alexi said. “I remembered some anecdotes from when I started to debate and used those to comfort people who had never done it.”

While the enrollment number for the class of 2025 has not been announced, Ms. Biswas said the admission office has reached or surpassed its enrollment goals on all three campuses in a year where applications were up 31% from the prior year.