by Vincent James
, posted on 21 Oct '20

Harvard Chan School is Considering This Pandemic Not as a Challenge, but an Opportunity


We’ve had the privilege of working with Vincent James, Director of Admissions at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for a few years now and were delighted when he agreed to write a comment piece for us. Here he shares how his School has responded to the 'opportunity' we’re all facing.


COVID-19 has impacted all of us in multiple ways. The fall season is the time for college and university admissions officers to travel and connect with prospective students. With business travel on hold, we shifted to a virtual model which yielded connections that were pleasantly surprising.

The need to pivot

Like everyone else, when the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan School) quickly shifted from an on-campus teaching, learning, research and working environment to off campus, the thought (or hope) was we would return to campus in the fall. In addition, business travel was prohibited but we hoped that too would return in the fall semester. When we realized in the summer that neither would be happening for at least the rest of the calendar year, my team in the admissions office realized we needed to make quick adjustments to our recruitment plans.

Looking for opportunities

A politician said sometime back, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” It’s a flippant statement, but it has a bit of truth in a business sense. Since we were not able to travel, we saw this as an opportunity to use technology in a different way as well as engage in more events to reach out to a wider number of prospective students. Here are a few things we have done/are doing.

  • Increase the number of information session webinars from bi-weekly to weekly during our peak recruitment period and schedule them at a different time each week. The webinar platform we use connects to our Customer Relationship Management tool, so we can easily keep track of who attended.
  • Attend more virtual Graduate Fairs in the US and abroad. Since the travel component has been removed, we are able to attend many more graduate school fairs virtually. This has been great as we have been attending virtual fairs hosted by colleges and organizations that we wouldn’t normally be able to visit in person. Even if the turnout is low, there is an indirect benefit. Students will see us on the list of graduate schools participating and may be intrigued to look at our website for more information.
  • Attend study fairs which have shifted from physical to virtual fairs. We did not have the travel budget to attend physical study fairs in the UK so we have taken advantage of the opportunity. Being able to participate in providers like FindAUniversity’s PhD LIVE and Postgrad LIVE virtual study fairs also complemented our content on their FindAMasters and FindAPhD websites. Prospective students could either sign up for more information, attend our information session or “see" us at one of their virtual study fairs.

Our virtual recruitment outreach has resulted in a noticeable uptick in prospective students interested in our programs and has been due to a combination of the above new opportunities.


Get in touch if you'd like to find out how FindAUniversity can help you extend your postgraduate marketing and recruitment reach at [email protected] or call +44 (0)114 268 4940.


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