As universities shuttered their campuses and canceled activities during Friday’s lockdown, prospective students who had come from around the country for open house visits suddenly found themselves stranded and without answers to the many questions that would influence their college decision.
After acceptances get sent out, April is typically the final push for universities to lock in their new freshmen class by inviting them to campus through scheduled open houses. But as the manhunt began, suspending much of the travel to and from Boston and requiring that much of the city stay inside, schools with scheduled admitted students weekends, including Boston University, Harvard, Tufts, and Northeastern quickly pulled the plug on their events.
To cope, Both Harvard and BU took their prospective student outreach online. Representatives and students who volunteer in the Admissions Office began posting on the BU Class of 2017 Facebook page and using the hashtag #BU2017 on Twitter, offering to answer questions for students who were either stranded in Boston or hadn’t begun their journey here yet. But it didn’t stop there.
“Once I realized that this was starting to go viral in the BU community—when other current students, alumni, staff members, and other departments started offering to join in and help—I decided to created the Google spreadsheet so we could have a resource to help organize what was going on,” said Gordon Ryan, digital and social media marketing manager for BU Admissions.
The document, which was created around 10:25 a.m., had grown to around 450 students and alumni by 7 p.m., according to Ryan, as more and more of the BU community found links to the document through social media.
“We’re thrilled, to say the least. I’m humbled,” Ryan said. “While I knew there would be a core group of our Admissions students who would help out to some extent, I did not anticipate such an outpouring of help from the entire BU community.”