Hosting a campus open house in the trying times of COVID

If someone was to drive through the California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) campus in early October, chances are they would see crowds of prospective students trying to decide if that was going to be their school for the next two or four years. However, this year CSUMB’s open house was drastically different. 

Discover CSUMB Virtual Campus started on Oct. 7 and concluded on Oct. 13. Each day a different department hosted Zoom sessions with each of their majors. Prospective students listened to presentations about the majors as well as talked to faculty and current students. 

Despite being virtual, this event mimicked the in-person open house sessions CSUMB usually hosts. “I think this allowed for a more personable setting, rather than a lecture to a large crowd, said the fourth-year communication design student and student representative at the event, Nicole Freeman. “Prospective students were able to ask one-on-one questions, receive advice from students and make connections with their professors before they arrive at CSUMB.”

Although they may have had better access to professors and current students while attending the event virtually, there were still drawbacks to this format. With uncertainty about when CSUMB can return to in-person instruction it could be hard for incoming students to tell what kind of education they will experience if attending the university. 

“I know it is a hard decision for a lot of people to make, ‘do I start school now or wait a year or two until the full experience is available?’” said Benjamin Jex, another fourth-year communication design student and student representative of the virtual open house. 

CSUMB also provided a special Saturday event for prospective students that focused on showcasing student services and included a link to an app with which they could tour CSUMB “from the comfort of [their] own home.” It is hard to say if students can get an accurate depiction of what CSUMB has to offer from these activities. Without access to campus it makes the difficult decision of where to go to college even harder.

“There’s absolutely a missing element in not being able to see the space that you’ll be practically – or literally – living in for the next two to four years, and I feel sorry for those who won’t be able to experience this peaceful, physical place we all used to share,” Jex said. “I can say, though, that the presence of faculty and current students is as strong there as it has ever been, and I’m confident that people will still see the warmth in our academic community.”

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