Virtual Admissions Season

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This year, Harvard-Westlake’s admissions process for prospective students goes online.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Harvard-Westlake (HW) admissions process has been severely disrupted. Admission events, such as tours and student panels for prospective families, have been moved online. Many incoming students had never seen the school’s campus in person before the beginning of this school year, solely interacting with the admissions process through virtual means.

The virtual admissions process came with some benefits. It has allowed increased flexibility for events and meetings which would have normally occurred in person. 

“With the online admission season we’re able to be more accessible,” assistant director of admissions Julia Kraft said. “Virtual events are just easier for people to attend. It also allowed us to record info sessions that people could watch at their own convenience.”

Meagan Salmon, HW’s other assistant admissions director, highlighted how the school’s over 600 student ambassadors were affected by the pandemic. 

“Our responsibilities decreased because of the limited opportunities to interact with applicant families,” she said. “A few ways that Student Ambassadors could participate in the program were the Wolverine Chats, some on campus self-guided tours (to answer questions at specific stations), virtual panels and the Student Ambassador blog.”

One change to the admissions process came with the introduction of Wolverine Chats, small online panels which allowed prospective students and their families to ask questions to student ambassadors about student life at HW. 

“Usually,” said Kraft, “student ambassadors lead over 1,000 tours each year. Interacting with student ambassadors is one of the best parts of the admission process, so we tried to recreate those interactions with the Wolverine Chats.”

“The admissions process was definitely a little different,” Eva Goldrich ’25, a new ninth-grader, said, “because I couldn’t go and talk to people and everything was online, I had my interview online. I think I missed the in-person interactions.”

Interviews for prospective students have also been moved online and conducted through Zoom. 

“Zoom is hard for interviews,” Kraft said. “People are nervous, you can’t control who is in the room, there are technical difficulties to worry about and there is something lost with the in-person interaction.”

Despite the online system granting some new opportunities for increased flexibility and interaction with prospective families, both Kraft and Salmon prefer in-person admissions. 

“With COVID,” Salmon said, “the parameters of on-campus events are always shifting and changing. With limitations in mind, I do look forward to working with applicant families and [s]tudent [a]mbassadors in person.”