By Rae-Anne Mena, Jesuit Excellence Tour (JET) Director & Assistant Program Director for Alumni Relations at Saint Louis University


For many years, Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States have participated in a travel consortium to jointly recruit prospective college applicants interested in pursuing their undergraduate degrees at a Jesuit institution. Known as the Jesuit Excellence Tour (JET), the program is a series of in-person recruitment events held annually in nearly twenty cities across the country.

As most things came to a halt last March, so did the Jesuit Excellence Tours, when our remaining six Spring JETs scheduled for March, April and May were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Planning for the Fall JETs usually begins in early summer, so we knew it would not be long before we had to decide whether we would be able to return to in-person events. Even when much was still unknown, the Council of Jesuit Admission Deans and Directors (CJAD) made the decision to postpone our in-person Fall JETs, and focus the time and energy of our JET coordinators into moving the tours into a virtual format for the Fall semester.

Each Jesuit institution that hosts a JET (typically 3-5 days of high school visits and college fairs in a particular region, with admissions counselors from 15-20 Jesuit institutions) has a staff member who coordinates it on behalf of their office. From scheduling high school visits to arranging for transportation and accommodations for the counselors, these coordinators take on all the logistical planning for their JET. When the decision was made to move to a virtual format, the coordinators instead began focusing their efforts on helping the JET Director design what a virtual JET might look like. How could we replicate the way that we come together in person as a group to talk about the shared mission of Jesuit colleges and universities?

Being able to share our common bonds and shared mission as a consortium was extremely important to the JET Coordinators. What could make this virtual college fair different from any others? We all agreed that we would use ours to showcase what it means to be Jesuit-educated. The group quickly settled on hosting three virtual events, and with feedback from CJAD, decided to host one event per month during the traditional Fall recruitment season of September, October and November. To show how a Jesuit education can impact a student’s college experience, as well as the strength of our network, JET coordinators suggested session topics that would allow Jesuit schools to present together in groups of 3-4 schools per panel.

In addition to picking session topics, a technology partner was needed to help run our virtual platform. After meeting with four vendors and setting up demonstrations with each, a recommendation was made by the JET Director to CJAD on the platform that would work best to host our Virtual Fall JETs. With the technology partner chosen (as well as the dates and content for each event), the final step was to begin promoting the events. Using the Jesuit Excellence Tour page on the AJCU website, we began sending out save-the-date information via social media. We also began e-mailing the 600+ high school counselors across the country who typically either host a JET visit at their school, or come to one of our JET-sponsored college fairs or counselor events. Beginning three weeks out from the first event, we have been e-mailing our counselor list every week with updates to share with their students.

With one week to go before the first Virtual JET event on Wednesday, September 23 (4-8 PM ET), we are in the final stages of planning and are ready to open registration. If you have a high school student interested in attending a Jesuit college or university, please be sure to invite them to participate in our events. Students can register by visiting and entering the code JetTour2020.

While each event is scheduled to last for four hours, you will see in some of the information shared on our website that we have collaborative sessions planned for the first two-and-a-half hours of the event and a college fair planned for the last one-and-a-half hours. Students are welcome to attend all or just some of the sessions that interest them most. You can view the schedule for the Virtual JET events on the AJCU website, as well as the list of Jesuit schools participating and session topics being offered. Session topics and presenters will change across our three events, so a student could different sessions at each one.

Fall 2020 Virtual JET Dates:

For updates on all things JET-related, follow us on social media! We are on Twitter @jesuitedutours, as well as Facebook and Instagram. For more information on the JET program, please contact JET director Rae-Anne Mena (of Saint Louis University):