Despite the past unpredictable year due to COVID-19, the University welcomed and matriculated the largest first-year class in its history, with the Office of Admissions reporting 476 new students.
This feat can be credited to the Office of Admission and, specifically, its Arcadian Ambassador Program. In the face of the problems caused by the pandemic in the 2020-2021 school year, the Arcadian Ambassador Program was able to adapt and maintain communication with prospective students.
Arcadians were able to connect and communicate with prospective students through virtual senior interviews, virtual tours, online questionnaires, and the Note Writing Campaign.
The Note Writing Campaign was one of the main ways that University students were able to connect with prospective students. Prospective students received postcards, emails, and text messages from current University students.
“I think handwritten letters and text campaigns go such a long way. I remember getting a letter my senior year of high school and thinking about how no other school had done that,” said Nika Gorski (‘22). Students receive these messages from current University students, and it allows them to ask questions and talk with current students. “It’s so special that the students at Sewanee take the time to make everyone’s application process so unique.”
This year, Arcadians will be able to return to conducting senior interviews, panels, in-person tours, and lunch appointments with prospective students. These one-on-one activities with Arcadians are essential to promoting the University.
“When I stepped onto campus, it was a literal and figurative breath of fresh air,” said Becket Bowz (C’25). He attended a tour during the Easter semester of 2021. “The Arcadians were excellent at making us feel comfortable and answering all of our questions.” Becket’s positive experiences with the Arcadians heavily influenced his decision to come to Sewanee.
A key goal of the Arcadian Ambassador Program is to focus on making students feel comfortable enough to ask the questions they want about the University and all it encompasses.
Reagan Leverett (C’22) became an Arcadian the first semester of her freshman year. “It was one of the first activities that I joined at Sewanee, and it has taught me a lot of valuable lessons.” She began her time in the Arcadian Program as a writer for the Note Writing Campaign. As a senior, she is a panelist and senior interviewer.
Panels and senior interviews are key ways of helping the Arcadians connect with prospective students virtually and in person. Panels are made up of three University students and the student visit coordinator, Maria Watters. The panel allows prospective students to ask questions to a variety of students. “Maria Watters leaves half-way through the panel to allow students to ask the honest questions they want to know from Sewanee students,” said Leverett. Additionally, senior interviews allow interviewers to talk one-on-one with prospective students. “I ask the student questions and record their responses to be considered alongside their file for admission,” said Leverett.
Over the course of the 2020-2021 school year, senior interviews were held over Zoom and panels occurred less than the previous years.
The Arcadians are passionate about Sewanee and helping high school students find the right college for them. This passion remained the same over the pandemic for the Arcadian Program. Gorski stated, “The role as an Arcadian looked different during a pandemic, as it should. We had virtual tours and did more text campaigns to help give prospective students as much of an opportunity to get to know the campus as possible.”
Admissions called the Arcadian program crucial for helping the largest first-year class enter the University this year. Alan Ramirez, the Associate Provost and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, said, “We cannot do the important work of engaging future students without the Arcadians.”