Tough economic times have forced many Americans to curtail their travel, and university administrators are no exception. But admissions officers are coming up with creative alternatives to keep the lines of communication open with high school students. An admissions officer from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently conducted a cybervisit to a Fredericksburg, Virginia private school without ever leaving her office. She used a webcam to communicate with 15 students via Skype.

Wake Forest University also used Skype to conduct personal interviews with applicants after it became the first top-30 national university to adopt a test-optional policy. Knowing that some applicants would opt not to submit standardized test scores, the university admissions committee decided to be more individualized and deliberate about their decisions. While they interviewed many applicants the old-fashioned way — in person —- they invited others to interview via webcam or through a written, on-line interview. “We anticipated growth in the applicant pool, but remained committed to using personal interviews to ensure that we retained our high standards,” said Martha Allman, director of admissions at Wake Forest. “We found that the interviews truly helped us differentiate among applicants, and we began to wonder how we chose a class without interviews.”

Thanks to technology, it now doesn’t matter whether an applicant is around the corner or around the world. Dartmouth College’s admissions office recently used Skype to communicate with students in South Africa, according to the campus newspaper.

Read more about one cybervisit