University of Iowa admissions recruits the class of 2025 virtually

Because of COVID-19, admissions has looked very different this year. Virtual visits and one-on-one meetings via Zoom are new options for prospective students.


Grace Smith

The University of Iowa Admission Visitors Center, which is located in the Pomerantz Career Center, is pictured on Sept. 27, 2020. With no certainty that campus tours will be in person due to COVID-19, the University finds new ways to recruit the class of 2025 including zoom meetings and virtual visits.

Caitlin Crome, News Reporter

As prospective students begin applying to the University of Iowa for fall 2021, normal campus groups that tour around the Pentacrest and eat at a dining hall, will tour the campus virtually this year.

With no in-person tours, the inability to meet advisors, and representatives of specific colleges, and for some students, no option to take standardized testing, the university has had to change their way of recruiting students.

“We truly did not have a way in which to predict how COVID-19 would impact enrollment,” Associate President for Enrollment Management Brent Gage said. “But we did know that for some students the decision to enroll would be challenging due to personal health factors, family members at risk, and changes to their financial situation.”

The 2024 freshman class saw a slight dip in enrolled students — 456 fewer students than the class of 2023, with a total of 4,530.  In a June survey from the Art and Science Group, a consulting company that advises higher education institutions found at the time that most students in the high school graduating class of 2021 said they were at least somewhat confident colleges would be able to hold classes in-person in fall 2021. The study, which surveyed 1,975 collegebound high school seniors, found 43 percent of the group thought the pandemic affected their qualifications.

Gage said admissions’ goal from the beginning was to provide as much flexibility as possible, and work with students and their families as they tried to make the decision that was best for them.

RELATED: Class of 2024 sees decrease in enrollment

Director of Admissions Kirk Kluver said the department was able to make a swift transition from in-person visit programs to virtual visit programs almost overnight.

Gage added that virtual programs have drawn students from a wide geographic area.

“We have had hundreds of opportunities for virtual programming for students from across the state, around the country, and around the world to engage and learn about the University of Iowa,” he said. “It was common to have students from 20-30 different states to attend our virtual admissions programs over the summer.”

Kluver said there are multiple opportunities each week throughout the fall 2020 semester for prospective students to learn more about the campus, the community, and the academic programs.

“Every academic college is represented at these virtual Hawkeye Visit Day Programs,” Kluver said. “Students can then be put into a breakout room and learn about the college that most interests them.”

RELATED: UI Admissions Office’s efforts to attract prospective Hawkeyes move online

One of these students who has been admitted into the class of 2025 is Paris Fietsam from Bettendorf. She said she is planning to major in English and possibly double major in education.

She said the application process was very easy and only took her about 10 minutes. She was also able to take the ACT in August, after it being canceled twice before because of COVID-19, she said.

“I emailed an admissions counselor to set up a Zoom call so I could ask any questions that I had, and they sent me a lot of links so I could virtually tour the campus,” she said.

The university gave Fietsam a lot more resources and offered to set up more Zoom calls as well, she said.

Fietsam said she hopes by the start of her freshman year, classes can be in-person and that students will not be sent home.

“I am really excited to hopefully start my first year of college on campus and in the dorms,” she said.

She said she was drawn to the UI because it was close to home and she wanted to be able to visit family often. She said she decided to apply early, as well, because she knew that the UI was her top choice.

“I knew that regardless of where I chose, I wanted to have [The University of] Iowa as an option,” she said.