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Three years passed before the pandemic hit. It seemed like the whole world was up in the air; However, the Success Team’s mission was clear, “We weren’t going to let the pandemic stop our students from achieving their dreams.” Cash says. Social distancing was not going anywhere soon and with Summer Enrollment just around the corner; the MAC had to act fast. The enrollment services team immediately researched different modalities that other institutions were using, which were mostly text, phone-based, or even chatbots.

Various modalities are what students need right now and we will continue to do our best to meet the student where they are.

Lauren Cash

None of these measured up to the MAC’s standards of providing excellent service to students. The enrollment services team went back to the drawing board, “The great part of this was the collaboration process. There was no time or room for egos, everyone was incredibly student-centered. We always came back to how intimidating navigating college can be, especially in uncertain times. We agreed that the solution was continuing the face-to-face format that had always fostered a connection between our students and staff members.”  

The VMAC (Virtual Maverick Assistance Center) sprang forth from these meetings. The VMAC became a series of WebEx meetings that funnels students through each of the departments. This process takes some digital acrobatics from the MAC team. For example, WebEx cannot interface with Lone Star College System’s overarching chat applications. The team has developed individual roles to create a systemized flow to reduce confusion from the student’s end. Our admissions, financial aid, and advising staff were crucial to making this happen. Afterwards, the student receives an e-mail containing all the resources explained during the meeting, “The e-mail is a great resource to refer back to, it accommodates multiple learning styles, provides immediate answers, and provides information about the next semester.”

The responses from students have been overwhelmingly positive. Even with glowing reviews, Cash still sees room for improvement, “I’m currently working on a survey to send to students who visit us at the VMAC. This will help refine and finesse the VMAC to make sure our processes are always student-focused while keeping the demands reasonable for our staff.” Cash has some thoughts about the continuation of the VMAC in a post-quarantine world, “Like everyone else, we do plan on returning to on-campus functions when our administration allows, but we will definitely consider continuing services through this format. We would like to keep some form of virtual interaction with students since we had amazing feedback. Various modalities are what students need right now and we will continue to do our best to meet the student where they are.”

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