Mercer County Community College Is Ready for Virtual Success


WEST WINDSOR, NJ – For decades, on-campus tours and on-site meetings have been the norm for  incoming students each spring at Mercer County Community College (MCCC). Enter COVID-19 and the new era of virtual engagement.

While virtual often connotes impersonal, it seems MCCC’s new virtual interaction efforts have actually brought students, families, administrators and faculty closer together. Interactive conferencing and virtual open houses are two of the many new ways to connect. In addition, the move toward virtual seems to have created an atmosphere of change that has prompted new financial incentives such as temporary tuition reductions and deferred payments. Add a dedicated MCCC staff, and all these resources together form a framework for making higher education more attainable for students and families.

Yes, MCCC is ready for virtual success.  

The college has moved to virtual operations for teaching and coursework and practically all other areas since the temporary closure of physical campuses in March. Specifically, live virtual office hours for student assistance and registration are now available through the Zoom conferencing platform. Recruitment, placement testing and student life initiatives have all gone remote. Marketing communications are nearly entirely digital. Even a new “chat bot” was introduced several months ago to help answer questions in real time on the MCCC website. 

Lisa Bogdziewicz, a recruiter at Mercer’s West Windsor Campus, explained how she and the other MCCC recruiters have stepped up to the plate to reach out to prospective and current students and families. “We all work together on the recruitment initiatives and we have strong relationships with our high schools in the Mercer County area,” said Bogdziewicz. “We have been able to keep that [relationship] intact and maintained, and it is almost getting stronger with the remote operations we have right now,” she said. 

Bogdziewicz and her colleagues in MCCC’s Enrollment Services area — Christopher Friehaut, Nicole Hover at Mercer’s West Windsor campus; and Stephen Waniak at the James Kerney campus — are now “all remote all of the time.” Their efforts rely heavily on virtual one-on-ones to provide guidance to incoming graduating high school seniors and nearly a hundred high school counsellors as well as community groups in the region. 

“We are utilizing Zoom, the telephone, email — really any means of communication to be able to set up advisement sessions,” said Bogdziewicz. “We are always there for the students,” she said. “We will help students get where they need to be regardless of a pandemic.”

Bogdziewicz recalled how she had recently set up a Zoom meeting with a father and a prospective student. The father disclosed that he was bit wary about how it would go online. After the session the father said to Bogdziewicz, “Our first Mercer experience was so positive,” and he gave her the thumbs up on her computer screen. “It felt really good to be able to help them,” she said.

As of the start of May, enrollment signings are shy of what they were this time last year, but the recruiters are optimistic. The college is offering 20 percent off tuition rates for the summer session. Recruiters are already seeing positive results. 

“I have some students who have said, ‘I was thinking of taking summer classes at my college but since it is all online now anyway I may as well take it at Mercer and save some money,’” said Stephen Waniak.

Waniak explained that at the James Kerney campus there are a lot of working students who don’t always qualify for financial aid. “For those students who have to pay out of pocket, the 20 percent discount really goes a long way,” he said.

To accommodate summer and fall enrollees, one of the more creative endeavors the college is rolling out is a series of virtual open houses. According to Gina Migliaccio, Strategic Support Services for the college, “The series will consist of a three-day virtual event featuring several Zoom sessions that will highlight the Liberal Arts, Health Professions and Business/STEM division.”

The Liberal Arts Open House is set for May 19, the Health Professions Open House is May 20 and the  Business/STEM Open House is May 21. Each session will run 90-minutes and be separated into smaller segments to highlight different programs within the academic divisions so many of the college’s faculty members will get a chance to be in the spotlight.

Waniak explained how the open house event will work. “We are probably going to start off with general sessions where the enrollment staff will give an overview of the college and the application and financial aid process. Then we are hoping the deans will participate and share their information about the academic divisions,” said Waniak. 

The more specific open house sessions will allow students to click on a link and go into a Zoom meeting. During the meeting students will be able to see and speak to the the heads of the different programs to gather information and get answers to questions.

“We have faculty and coordinators who are so passionate,” said Waniak. “Not only do they see this as a way to increase enrollment in their programs, this is what they do and what they love. There will be some great presentations out there.”

The college has more virtual initiatives planned as well. A “Virtual Viking Hour” on Tuesdays and Thursdays will consist of one-hour Zoom sessions highlighting different areas of the college’s many services and departments such as Financial Aid and Student Life and Leadership. Another effort underway is Enrollment Services video streaming and Facebook and Instagram pages to expand community and student outreach. Both sites can be followed through the handle @mcccadmissions.

Many of these new resources may continue well after the campus returns back to its normal mode of operation.

“I think it will change the way we do business as a whole,” said Nicole Hover. “There are better ways to do things and I think this kind of opened everyone’s eyes to see what more is out there and what more we can use to better serve our students.”

Zoom conferencing may be one of the platforms that really sticks. Time will tell. The power of technology is amazing but in reality it is only as good as the people behind it. 

“There is an entire network of dedicated people at the college whose main concern is the students’ academic success,” said Francis Paixao, Director of Marketing, Publications, Video and Web Services in MCCC’s marketing department. 

Yes, Mercer does seem to have those really dedicated people. The college’s new marketing campaign pretty much says it all: “We Are Here to Help.”


Join the Virtual Viking Hour! (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-4 p.m.)


Sign up for Liberal Arts Open House


Sign up for Health Professions Open House


Sign up for Business/Stem Open House


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Virtual Viking Hour Gina Migliaccio  

Mercer County Community College registration is open for Summer and Fall virtual courses. Most of the college's operations have been moved online and new initiatives such as one-on-one Zoom conferences and virtual open houses for student assistance are taking the place of in-person meetings.  (Above) Gina Migliaccio of MCCC's strategic support area hosts a Virtual Viking Hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays ultilizing the Zoom conferencing platform. Other initiatives such as video streaming and Facebook and Instagram pages can be followed through the handle @mcccadmissions. Click here to join the Virtual Viking Hour! (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-4 p.m.)


  Mercer Digital Advert

Mercer County Community College has reinvented itself during the temporary closure of the campus. Virtual open houses for students and families will take place on May 19, 20 and 21. Each of those days will focus on a specific area including Liberal Arts, Health Professions and Business/STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).