Ithaca Week Engages Incoming Students Virtually

By Danica Fisher ’05, May 1, 2020
IC hosts over 30 online events for incoming students.

This year in place of its annual Ithaca Today program, Ithaca College hosted its first ever Ithaca Week, six days filled with virtual activities for incoming students. There were over 2,100 unique logins of participants to live content during Ithaca Week, with each day featuring a welcome from one of IC's five schools. This was truly a collaboration across schools and offices as the Office of Admission partnered with close to 200 IC faculty, staff, current students and alumni to host Ithaca Week. 

In a survey sent to participants after Ithaca Week events one attendee commented that Ithaca Week “helped us imagine what it can be like at Ithaca and made us excited at the possibility. After a month of disappointments, it felt good to be excited for the future.” 

Alumni Panel.

Alumni Panel during Ithaca Week. Attendees included Gretchen Van Valen MM '93; K. J. Hammond '16; Christian Brand '19; Jhonny Perez '18; Samantha Gibble '15; Brandon Schneider '17; and Madelynn Thompson '22. (Photo submitted)

Ithaca week activities were created in addition to hundreds of virtual individual appointments with incoming students. During Ithaca Week student- and staff-led panels were open to all incoming students and family members and featured over 30 events including: 

  • Student-to-student panels 
  • Panels for parents and supporters 
  • Transfer student panel 
  • International students’ roundtable 
  • LGBTQ+ life at IC 
  • Diversity and inclusion 
  • Academic and student life fair 

Typically, Ithaca College hosts a variety of on-campus activities for incoming students, cumulating in the spring with Ithaca Today, filled with activities and tours. With the onset of COVID-19, the Office of Admission turned on-campus events that had been planned for months into a robust menu of virtual options.  

“The amount of content created in a short window of time is remarkable,” said Laurie Koehler, vice president of marketing and enrollment strategy at Ithaca College. “There are short videos and information about our schools as well as lots of other aspects of student life, all put together in record time in an effort to ensure our admitted students have access to as much helpful information as possible.” 

During Ithaca Today, students are only able to participate in programming that’s related to their major, but Ithaca Week’s sessions were open to anyone, meaning students could attend other schools’ information sessions.  

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Nicole Eversley Bradwell, MS ’02, director of admission at Ithaca College notes that they will stay in touch with admitted students about how they want information about the IC community shared in the future. “We appreciate that this is a unique set of circumstances, but next year we’ll have to make some inferences about how programming for admitted students will look,” she said. “Adding virtual programming gives people more opportunities to spread their engagement out over a longer period of time and allows them to personalize the experience.” 

In addition, the admission office saw certain populations of incoming students participate more during Ithaca Week than they had previously, including transfer, international, and LGBTQ+ than they have in the past. “By providing virtual and online opportunities, we’re seeing more participation from these populations,” said Eversley Bradwell.  

“Through the content produced, both live and pre-recorded, we were able to support our accepted students in making informed decisions as they make crucial decisions regarding their college search.”

Cara Nichols ‘03. M.S. ‘15, associate director in the Office of Admission

Each school owned its own day and planned how information was presented, including how faculty, staff and students interacted with incoming students. Each day held school-specific sessions, and the schools also made welcome videos for the students. Challenges in planning for Ithaca Week included training people on new technology and its best practices. 

Through the content produced, both live and pre-recorded, we were able to support our accepted students in making informed decisions as they make crucial decisions regarding their college search,” said Cara Nichols ‘03. M.S. ‘15, associate director in the Office of Admission. “Additionally, by connecting remotely and recording most sessions, we have given our accepted students the opportunity to participate and view content that is most pertinent to them on their own schedule.” 

Watch sessions recorded from Ithaca Week. 

Participants were asked in the survey a variety of questions including if after the session they participated in their impression of IC was more favorable, unchanged, or less favorable with 79% saying their impression was more favorable, 21% were unchanged, and 0% found IC less favorable.