October 1, 2020

Q&A Session Focused on Recruitment and Retention

UMW faculty and staff tuned in yesterday to a Zoom presentation and Q&A session centered on fall enrollment and retention in the time of COVID-19. Facilitated by Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken, the hour-long event included Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams, Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski, Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young and Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack.

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Buster-Williams and Yakabouski, who together have worked half a century in college admissions, said that the recruitment-related woes they’ve faced throughout their careers have been trumped by unemployment rates, health concerns and other disruptions caused by the current pandemic.

COVID-19 has taken an increasingly competitive college-enrollment landscape to new heights, the administrators said, forcing them to re-imagine strategies for recruiting and retaining students, and pose innovative solutions. At the time of the talk, first-year deposits stood at slightly more than 100 less than anticipated, according to Buster-Williams. This mirrors a downward trend across the country, she said. Mary Washington, like other schools, has extended the enrollment deposit deadline to June 1.

“We find ourselves in the midst of a recruitment crisis, and the outpouring of support has been truly appreciated,” she said of faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the Mary Washington community who are pitching in to help yield a strong incoming class.

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski

After working for years to build a 2020-21 UMW undergraduate cohort – visiting schools, attending college fairs, reading applications and more – “our entire operation went online,” Yakabouski said. Without the overwhelming support, she said, “we could not have pivoted as quickly or as well.”

Among incoming students’ top concerns, she said, are a need to connect and a desire to know if Mary Washington will be able to meet its goal of providing in-person learning this fall or if the coronavirus crisis will force courses back online.

Pack and Young said they also have been “sorting through uncertainties” to meet the changing demands of adult learners by enhancing testing and pathway options, and financial support opportunities.

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack

Together, Pack said, the two have hosted virtual sessions throughout the past six weeks for 150 students interested in enrolling in UMW’s MBA, M.Ed., MSGA, BSN, BLS, GIS-certification and other professional development programs.

“Uncertainty means we have hope,” said Young, who is keeping a close eye on the ways in which UMW can help meet the changing needs of area industries, such as offering COVID-19-influenced courses required of educators.

Participants posed a host of questions about such topics as how other schools’ decisions impact UMW’s admissions operations and what unique enrollment strategies are being considered.

“We are making sure we’re being really brilliant at the basics,” Buster-Williams said.

Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

In answer to Professor of Chemistry Nicole Crowder’s question on how the entire UMW community can continue to support this crucial effort, Yakabouski suggested being responsive to inquiries from prospective students and their parents, and sharing innovative ideas.

“Recruitment isn’t just about the four of us on this panel,” Young said. “It’s about all of us.”

Watch the May 20 Q&A session on YouTube.

Continue UMW traditions by helping us recruit the next generation of Eagles!

Hello Eagle family,

I hope you and yours are well during this unusual time in our lives. Our community, alumni included, are rallying to assist in bringing in our entering class during this unprecedented situation. Between #WhyMaryWash videos, legacy letters to parents, and alumni messages to students, we have been communicating all the reasons to choose Mary Washington.

I wanted to share that we have seen a slight uptick in late inquiries and applications for this fall. COVID-19 may affect high school seniors’ initial decision regarding where they will attend. Please know that you can refer a student and provide an application fee waiver. The Admissions team is working with students and families as they navigate the impact of this pandemic. And as President Paino recently shared with our community, our hope and plan is to welcome students on campus this August.

In addition to sharing an application fee waiver, feel free to share this video. I anticipate that some of these same reasons ring true for you as they do for the current students featured.

Be well,

Melissa Yakabouski ’94
Director of Undergraduate Admissions

 

Christy Pack: Master of Admissions

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack, who also serves as the Staff Advisory Council president. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack has always been a fan of the quote: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” These poetic words were penned by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, a novella about a young boy who leaves his tiny planet to explore the universe. It’s quite fitting for Pack, who helps aspiring students reach for the stars.

With more than 15 years of experience in enrollment management under her belt, Pack oversees admissions and recruitment for UMW’s graduate programs in education, business and geospatial analysis. Along with Assistant Director David Harger, she spends her days recruiting and holding information sessions, orchestrating communications and marketing plans for each program, and collaborating with the Undergraduate Admissions and Continuing and Professional Studies teams.

“I never get tired of talking about advancing your education and investing in yourself,” said Pack, who also serves as president of the University’s Staff Advisory Council. Since coming to Mary Washington in 2015, she has witnessed an uptick in graduate applications, which she credits to competitive strategies developed to attract prospective students. “It’s been exciting to watch the profession evolve through technology and acclimate to the ever-changing landscape of higher education.”

Working full-time while completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business primed her to address the needs of adult learners, said Pack, adding that Mary Washington accommodates students juggling busy lives by offering evening and online classes and full- and part-time enrollment. She cited a graduate education student she recently met who’s currently completing practicum assignments.

“He said he can’t imagine a more rewarding experience than being in the classroom,” Pack said. “He’s building the foundation of a successful career right here on UMW’s Stafford Campus.”

 

Pack has been a member of the Staff Advisory Council since coming to UMW in 2015, and now serves as its president. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Pack has been a member of the Staff Advisory Council since coming to UMW in 2015, and now serves as its president. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Q: You were instrumental in establishing the long-anticipated agreement to offer business classes at UMW’s Dahlgren Campus. Can you tell us more about it?
A: This was a team effort all the way. We received over 50 applications and pulled together to get the first cohort set up in less than four months. We’re planning for a second one this fall.

Q: A master’s degree is a plus for today’s job-seekers. What are you doing to attract prospective students?
A: We are currently implementing a new application process. This technology is a huge transition for our office and will help us create dynamic strategies to reach and engage adult learners.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: For me, it’s graduation day. Watching a student begin their journey, overcome obstacles and become the person they’re meant to be keeps me motivated.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: Responding to the changing pace of the job.

Q: You’ve been involved in Staff Advisory Council (SAC) since you came to UMW and now you’re president. Tell us why you love being part of the organization.
A: At Mary Washington, I’ve sought opportunities – such as Leadership UMW – to be professionally engaged in ways that can serve others and continue my skill development. As SAC president, I’ve enjoyed working with my colleagues who share this common mission of promoting collaboration and communication across our campus community. One of SAC’s final activities this year will be supporting UMW employees during Virginia Public Service Week in May. Stay tuned!

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I love fishing. Two years ago, I caught a 35-pound blue catfish on the Rappahannock River in Port Royal.

Q: What’s the most inspiring book you’ve read?
A: Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. She provides great perspective on women and leadership that I’ve valued in my own journey.

Dates for Admitted Student Phone-a-thon Moved

Admitted Student Phone-a-thon – Volunteers Welcome

The Office of Financial Aid mailed more than 1,000 financial aid awards to admitted first year and transfer students in January. Join us as we personally reach out to students to confirm its receipt and remind them of the next steps toward enrollment. This is an important outreach effort that will help with the success of the university’s enrollment goal for Fall 2020.

5-7 PM

Monday, February 3rd
Tuesday, February 4th
Thursday, February 6th

Anyone who completes a call to 10 students will be entered into a drawing for a reserved parking space for one month. (One entry per 10 completed calls)

• Calling from Lee Hall Fourth Floor – Admissions Operations Suite
• Pizza and drinks will be provided each evening

Please contact Melissa Yakabouski at myak@umw.edu to volunteer

Buster-Williams Headlines Strategic Enrollment Management Conference

Vice President of Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams was a headliner at the 29th Annual Strategic Enrollment Management Conference, presented by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 3-6, 2019. An AACRAO member since 1996, Buster-Williams has more than two decades of experience in higher education, including senior administrative assignments at Northern Illinois University and the University of Michigan-Flint. Her background includes extensive work in strategic planning, enrollment management in the academic context, access and diversity, branding/marketing, and assessment.

UMW to Host Admissions Open House, Oct. 26

A message from the Office of Admissions: 

To the UMW Community:

On Saturday, October 26, 2019, the University of Mary Washington will host its UMW Admissions Open House. Approximately 250 prospective students (typically transfers and high school seniors, juniors, and sophomores) and their families will visit campus between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The estimated guest count is over 600 visitors.

A sample agenda is posted here. Visitor parking has been reserved in parking deck level 4 off of Route 1, the GW lot, along College Avenue, general visitor parking spaces on Double Drive, the Jefferson Framar Lot and Admissions visitor parking spaces on Double Drive. Primary event locations are the University Center, George Washington Hall, Lee Hall, the Hurley Convergence Center, and campus/residence hall tours in Mason. Expect to see increased foot traffic on campus and curious newcomers at the Top of the University Center (fourth floor), especially between noon and 2 p.m.

While the Office of Admissions sponsors these events, the entire campus assumes the role of host. Our visitors frequently comment on how “friendly, helpful, and engaging” our UMW community is. To this end, last year we enrolled 695 students who had visited campus. Our goal this year is to increase the number of students who visit by 10%.

We encourage you to show your support and tweet to @MaryWash. We would like to see #UMWOpenHouse trending throughout the day. If you’d like to be involved in Open Houses or have ideas, please contact Admissions at 540-654-2000 or email admit@umw.edu.

Thank you for your partnership in showcasing all that is great about UMW!

Financial Aid Phone-a-thon Scheduled

The Office of Financial Aid mailed nearly 1,000 financial aid awards to admitted first-year and transfer students during the first week in January. Join us as we reach out to these students to confirm receipt of the awards and remind them of the steps they must take to enroll.

5-7 p.m.
Monday, January 29
Wednesday, January 31
Thursday, February 1

• Meet at Lee Hall, Fourth Floor, Admissions Operations Suite.

• Pizza and drinks will be provided each evening.

• Contact Melissa Yakabouski at myak@umw.edu to volunteer.

UMW Admissions Seeks Feedback

Did you have a senior in high school this year that embarked on the college admission process at UMW and/or other colleges and universities?  We’d like to hear about your experiences – what you thought worked, what was missing, what we need to improve on or keep doing!

Please join the Office of Admissions for lunch on either Wednesday, April 29 or Thursday, April 30 at noon to share your feedback.

To RSVP or for additional information, contact Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Melissa Yakabouski at 540-654-1669 or myak@umw.edu.

Local High Schools Participate in UMW Workshop

Public-Speaking-WorkshopThe Speaking Center and the Office of Admissions co-sponsored the Public Speaking  and Advocacy Workshop Feb. 1, 2014. The workshop included instruction on effective speaking, delivery skills, handling communication apprehension, and advocacy, given by Anand Rao and Tim O’Donnell. Students gave a three to five minute speech that they prepared in advance, and also participated in a town hall debate. Speaking center consultants observed those speeches and debates and provided feedback to the students. A total of 20 students participated, including students from Colonial Forge High School, Mountain View High School, Stafford High School, Spotsylvania High School, Riverbend High School, and the Fredericksburg home school speech and debate club. You can find more information about the workshop at: http://academics.umw.edu/speaking/speaking-intensive-program/public-speaking-advocacy-workshop-feb-1-2014/