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Outside the Box: Quick thinking moves Admissions event online during national virus outbreak

Kate Doyle, right, Carson-Newman’s director of Undergraduate Admissions, speaks with Chad Morris and Marilee Betz of Campus Ministries during the University’s recent online Admissions event via Facebook Live.

(March 30, 2020) JEFFERSON CITY, TN – A major recruiting event last week on Carson-Newman’s campus saw a turnout of over 200 prospective students in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak. Yet, none of the students were actually on campus, but instead, on their computers, phones and tablets. Each took part in the online interactive event.

It marked the first Eagle Experience exclusively online, offered via Facebook Live. It also was a successful solution to a challenge posed during a climate of social distancing.

“Eagle Experience is, traditionally, an on-campus event that allows students to shadow a current Eagle,” said Kate Doyle, director of Undergraduate Admissions. “It lets them experience worship, class and lunch on campus. It also provides a guided walking tour.”

Todd Turpin, associate director of Marketing, joined members of C-N’s Marketing & Communications team to assist the Admissions Office in the event. Turpin said the goal was to offer an online experience as close to the real one as possible. “When we survey our freshmen, we ask them why they chose Carson-Newman. They almost always say ‘Because this place and these people felt like home, like family,’” said Turpin. “We wanted to provide that same feeling.”

That “feeling” was made possible by an informative campus tour by Doyle. Throughout the virtual visit, guests were shown a wide range of pre-recorded videos highlighting student events, trips and experiences. They also heard from different areas on campus including Campus Ministries, Student Success, and Financial Aid. The combination gave those considering Carson-Newman a glimpse into what it’s like to be a C-N student.

Doyle said the result was a hit with students and families. “We had a lot of engagement during the event, lots of requests for follow-up from admissions recruiters and lots of interest in our various programs,” said Doyle. “I really do believe this was a successful way to reach out to students when they are home-bound but still working towards a bright collegiate future.

Turpin said the behind the scenes work was well worth it. “The technology we used to produce this event was new to us,” explained Turpin. “We have live-streamed many events in the past, but they have always been stationary.” Turpin said that was the original plan, but after more internal conversations, there was a desire to have the event more immersive in nature. The idea broke down the walls of having a “studio feel,” resulting in one that was mobile and out on campus.

“It was a hustle for sure,” said Turpin about the production, “but we have an amazing team with student service at heart.”

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts-based university affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The University is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and has over 2,700 students. Carson-Newman offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

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