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December 20, 2011

New tools for the social media–savvy student

woman holding tablet device

Marius Kothor ’13 uses a tablet computer to show ROCRes, a new website designed by the Office of Admissions that allows students to see 3D models of the University’s residential buildings.

As the 2011–12 admissions cycle gets under way, the University now offers two website innovations designed to provide high school students with more information about the University and the admissions decision-making process.

“Both websites give social medi–savvy students three things: increased online information, immediate response, and transparency,” says Jonathan Burdick, dean of admissions and financial aid at Rochester.

ROCRes showcases 3D models of residential halls and 360-degree views of select dorm rooms with a video game–like feel. While it’s not intended to replace the traditional campus tour, the site serves as a tool for those who cannot visit campus or are applying from abroad, says Burdick.

Created in-house by graphic designer James Arnold and Flash developer Dainius Jasinevicius, the site is Flash-based and can be accessed from PC computers and tablets as well as most mobile platforms.

For students who apply to Rochester, application software updates now allow them to track their application at each step of the process. Rochester ran the software as a pilot program during last year’s admissions cycle.

Students can log in to a personalized account to see updates on their application, starting with the information on which sections of the application still need to be completed. When the official review process begins, students will see the name, photo, and email address of the first reader of their application, giving them the opportunity to connect with the counselor, pose additional questions, or talk about the next steps of the process. Students then see their application pass along through a second reviewer on to the admissions committee and, finally, they can see when a decision regarding acceptance has been made. While the site will not tell students the admissions decision, it will notify them that a letter has been sent.

Satyajit Dattagupta, director of enrollment communications and admissions counselor, who spearheaded the creation of the new system, says that unique visits to the application website doubled after the pilot version was introduced. “This is really an example of how small changes to a process can create big effects,” Dattagupta says.

Additionally, Dattagupta says counselors have noticed better informed students and parents when they call and email with specific, targeted questions. “The system has helped us erase some of the uncertainty associated with the application review process,” he says. “Instead of feeling as if their application has been sent into a black hole, students can feel confident that they’ve fully completed their application, and that it is progressing.”

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