With the US now administering more than 3 million vaccines a day and the promise of additional capacity in the coming weeks, it appears an end to the pandemic may be on the horizon. That being said, it is as important as ever for us all to remain vigilant and to do our part as individuals and school communities to keep each other safe and care for one another. There are many things each of us have learned through the last year, paramount among them I hope is the power of understanding, compassion, and human connection.
During difficult times, small acts of grace and kindness are remembered and can make a significant difference. That is certainly a lesson I will take from the pandemic and that we have been working to practice on a daily basis at Queens, where we have been asking ourselves important questions about what we can learn from our experience during the pandemic and how these experiences should shape the future of education on our campus and around the world.
You are likely hearing a lot about what your schools have learned in terms of technology and its increasingly important role in education. This is clearly critical, but to focus on better technology alone is a troubling trap. With the proliferation of technology throughout our educational journeys, it is perhaps more important than ever that we emphasize once again the core components of a liberal arts education so that our students are able to effectively and thoughtfully use these technologies to:
We all know we can do virtual learning, but now it is our obligation to determine when we should engage in it. We have the potential to maximize flexibility and experiential learning while delivering in-person experiences where they matter most. We are at a crossroads where we can choose to grow and expand flexibility and hybrid learning models through consortiums, partnerships, and other collaborations, or we could go back to what we were doing pre-pandemic. We should learn from our students and we should not forget how flexible and agile we can be.
Considering my audience here, I would be remiss not to note that our admission offices are evolving in important ways as well.
Throughout the pandemic, many college admission offices partnered with college counselors to expand online resources for students and create virtual college nights, digital information sessions, and campus visits. This is another evolution we best not forget. Collaboration and innovation enabled us to move away from a rigid process governed by test scores and deadlines to a truly student-centric process that enabled us to serve our students and prospective students effectively wherever they might be.
So now, do we return to previous practices governed by test scores and deadlines? Or do we take what we learned to usher in a new era of college admission that aims to create pathways for all students to find their best fit, discover their passion, and make meaningful contributions to our world?
Dan Lugo is president of Queens University of Charlotte (NC) and a NACAC board director.