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November 4, 1996

New technology helps students connect to UCSC

Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood has become UCSC's ambassador of high technology lately, visiting high schools in San Jose and Fresno to show off the new tools the campus is offering college-bound students who need information about UC Santa Cruz.

Greenwood's visits to Silver Creek High School in San Jose and Roosevelt High School in Fresno are part of a Student Affairs campaign dubbed "High-Tech for High Touch." The idea is simple: Use World Wide Web-based technology to build on UCSC's reputation as a campus that is friendly and supportive of students--both prospective and enrolled students.

Though the idea of using technology to provide personalized service may at first seem an oxymoron, the tools are convincing. There's the "Success Team," which matches prospective students with a personalized team of UCSC professionals who are dedicated to providing information and advice on everything from admissions deadlines to housing options. New online "Chat Rooms" and "Discussion Forums" give students--and their parents--access to UCSC staff, students, and alumni for online question-and-answer sessions. And "Pathways," the University of California's electronic admissions option, is available to prospective UC students at 58 participating high schools statewide.

"The challenge for us was how to deliver UCSC experts and their information to students and parents in the field," says J. Michael Thompson, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management and director of admissions. "These new tools enable us to expand our outreach dramatically and reach more students than ever before."

The "Success Team" builds a bridge to personal contact by introducing students to the staffers who will help usher them through the admissions process--even the admissions counselor who will read their application, if they decide to apply. The program posts photos of staffers and provides team members' phone numbers and e-mail addresses to make contact as friendly and easy as possible.

"This won't supplant what we're doing in outreach," says Thompson. "We'll visit 350 schools this year. But this enables us to have a conversation anywhere that there's Web access."

When Thompson's staff introduced the "Success Team" concept to more than 4,000 high school and community college counselors at a series of UC meetings this past September, the response was overwhelmingly positive. "We immediately put what had been planned as a pilot program into full gear," Thompson said.

"I'm not aware of any other school in the country that's doing this," he adds. "We want to build on UCSC's reputation as a campus of innovation."

--Jennifer McNulty