By Stella Katsipoutis-Varkanis

A screen shot of the virtual Lafayette Landing portal login page

With nearly 80% of Lafayette’s annual operating budget hinging on tuition revenue, and with enrollment success one of the strongest markers of the College’s value, quality, and strength in the eyes of prospective students and their families, the Office of Admissions’ task of reaching annual enrollment goals is undoubtedly a crucial one. And as the world around us is rapidly changing—and becoming even more technologically dependent as a result of the coronavirus pandemic—so too must traditional recruitment practices evolve in order to reach, and clinch, potential incoming Leopards. That’s where the Lafayette Landing virtual recruitment portal comes in.

“This year was an exceptional departure from the stereotypical college search experience for seniors in high school,” says Rebecca Pichetto, assistant director of admissions for events and campus visitation. “The great majority did not have the opportunity to visit the colleges to which they were applying. Accordingly, it has been important to pivot much of our communication into an online/digital space. Lafayette Landing is an important stop-gap solution to our dramatically reduced ability to welcome admitted students to campus for an interactive visit, but it also broadens such interaction to many more admitted students who live all over the world.”

Launched in March, Lafayette Landing can be thought of as a crossbreed between LinkedIn and a private Facebook group. It’s a virtual platform where accepted students and their parents can go to engage with each other and with current students, get their questions about the College answered, stay on top of upcoming events, and develop friendships—all before attending orientation. 

“The goal is to create a real-time space for gathering information about the Lafayette experience from those who live and breathe it daily, and to impart the unique and wonderful Lafayette vibe in a virtual environment,” says Rebecca. “The medium gives an authentic snapshot of student and campus life.”

Here’s how the platform works: Once applicants are accepted to Lafayette, they receive an email invitation to join Lafayette Landing.  There are 123 student ambassadors trained to use the technology and interact with the prospective students to give them the lowdown on different aspects of Lafayette life—including student clubs and organizations, residential and academic experience, financial aid, and more. 

A screen shot of the virtual Lafayette Landing portal community page

When they join, newly accepted students and their parents can pose questions within the different communities or send direct messages to the ambassadors. They can also filter information based on parameters like major or geographic location, which is especially helpful to those interested in meeting other students from their hometowns or who need advice before taking the leap on an enrollment decision.

So far this year, there are almost 1,500 active members on Lafayette Landing, with users logging in from across the globe—from the U.S. to Australia, Chile, Russia, and many other countries in between.

“Looking forward, I can envision using this space to host pop-up chat events with various personalities on campus, such as academic department heads, student leaders, clubs, and athletes,” says Rebecca. “Admissions looks forward to using this technology next year and beyond to add dimension and access for accepted students from all over the world to our amazing cohort of student ambassadors and staff.”

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