|By R Storm (Anonrs) on Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 04:02 am: Edit|
We have two annual college fairs in our city, one in the Fall and one in the Spring. The one in the Fall is much larger and has a variety of types of schools and is definitely under the auspices of the NACAC (you could find the Fall fair listed on their website). The Spring College Fair consists primarily of small private schools (mostly LACs) -- do you think it just hasn't been listed yet on the NACAC website or is there perhaps a secondary "small, private LACs" organization that coordinates our Spring college fair? If so, can someone provide the organization name and a link to their website?
The Spring College Fair has been an annual event for years but it gets barely a blip in the papers and many high schools in the area, including ours, don't let the kids know about the spring fair -- so it's really easy to miss. But I think that it's especially great for sophs and juniors for early research and also planning summertime college visits; since my son may be going abroad next year -- his jr year -- I really want to make sure it gets put on our calendar.
Also, has anyone had experience with "online college fairs?" Any tips for getting the most out of the on-line approach?
|By R Storm (Anonrs) on Friday, January 18, 2002 - 03:26 pm: Edit|
Through persistence and knowing the venue of the past several years, I was able to find the answer to my first question on my own. The Spring College Fair that I'm interested in attending IS associated with NACAC but the information is to be found through the "State and Regional Associations" button located near the bottom of the left-hand menu bar on the NACAC homepage. (Our Spring College Fair is actually coordinated by our regional association, not the national group -- that's why it was not listed on the national college fair event page. And I had not noticed the state / regional button on the menu bar.)
I would still appreciate hearing from anyone with "online college fair" experience.
|By Dadster on Friday, January 18, 2002 - 05:35 pm: Edit|
Hmmm, I'd be interested in an answer to the online fair question too. It isn't really clear what advantage they have over visiting the school's web site. Looks kind of like an advertising vehicle to me. In person fairs can be OK, although the quality of people working the booths varies a LOT in my experience. Clearly, every school can't send skilled admissions experts to every fair. I can see students being influenced by that two minute contact, though, and crossing a school off their list if the rep was a real jerk. I can also see some schools being added to lists if they had a good presentation and engaging people working the booth.
|By George Meany on Friday, January 18, 2002 - 06:00 pm: Edit|
I searched The Chronicle of Higher Education for anything about online college fairs. This article from November 2000 tells of some possible pitfalls. Maybe things are better these days.
Computer Glitches Bring Down Nationwide Virtual College Fair
By SCOTT CARLSON
Technical difficulties last month torpedoed a nationwide virtual college fair, frustrating admissions officials of about 160 institutions -- along with uncounted numbers of their would-be students.
The fair was the first to be organized by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, but initially it brought nothing more to participants' computer screens than error messages.
When the technology finally began working, student turnout seemed low. Some college officials are questioning the promotional efforts that went into the project.
The admissions-counselors association, popularly known as NACAC, has sent apologies to the colleges, each of which spent several hundred dollars to participate in the sessions. Mark R. Cannon, deputy executive director of the association, said that NACAC is considering whether to offer refunds or free online sessions.
The association had scheduled two online college fairs on a Thursday -- one in the afternoon and one in the evening, each two to three hours long. The fairs were set up in a chatroom format: Students could gather in a virtual lobby and then go to various virtual rooms to meet with admissions counselors and financial-aid officers.
Unfortunately, Mr. Cannon explained, the online fair's popularity was precisely what brought it down. Of the more than 7,000 students who visited the site during the day, about 5,000 logged on within the first 15 minutes of the afternoon session. The heavy traffic crashed the system.
Although the association had the system back up by the end of the afternoon session, Mr. Cannon said that many prospective students probably logged off or lost interest in the fair when they saw that it wasn't working.
Mr. Cannon said that Interaction Software Inc., which designed and ran the system, conducted tests before the session but couldn't have predicted the breakdown. "In the analysis that Interaction has done, it shows that it's a minor hiccup," he said. "It's not an issue of capacity. It turned out to be more of a glitch."
Glitch or no glitch, one admissions officer said that she had seen problems coming for months.
"I don't think NACAC had its act together at all, or really understood the implications of what would happen when it went live," said Sarah S. Keating, director of admissions at Keystone College, in Pennsylvania. "There were problems when my counselor was setting up the booth for it. She was very aggravated, she couldn't get straight answers from NACAC, and it was one problem after another.
"Even last month, when there were supposed to be practice fairs, and they never really happened. They told my counselor, 'Just have someone in the office go on another computer and practice that way.' It seemed to be working OK, but then during the real fair yesterday, it was a disaster."
NACAC has scheduled about two online fairs every month through April. Each college participating in the program spent about $1,900 for a package of five online fairs; additional sessions cost about $450 for each institution.
Ms. Keating said she spends roughly the same amount in fees for taking part in NACAC's brick-and-mortar college fairs, where Keystone attracts about 50 to 60 students to its booth during an afternoon. During the online session, however, Ms. Keating said, her staff members chatted with only a few students.
Mr. Cannon said that NACAC promoted the events through online message boards and advertisements, and through word of mouth among high-school guidance counselors. But Ms. Keating wondered if the marketing was effective.
"None of my counselors have seen any advertisements for it at any of the college fairs that they've visited, and none of the guidance counselors that they spoke to knew about it," she said. "How are kids supposed to know that there's an online college fair that they can participate in? It's a little frustrating."
Other colleges had similar questions. David E. Trott, associate dean of admissions at the College of William and Mary, said that the evening session "worked out fine in terms of technical issues, but there weren't a whole lot of people that turned up." The college talked to about 10 people.
Still, he was optimistic about the potential of the online-fair format, through which he can reach rural and out-of-state students whom he doesn't often see at brick-and-mortar fairs.
"We're excited about the possibilities here," he said."The typical high-school student today doesn't know life before e-mail and chatrooms, so we definitely want to be on board with that."
For at least a few colleges, the format proved successful, in a way. Kelly A. Walter, director of admissions at Boston University, said that her virtual rooms might have been visited by more than 200 prospective students, although some of them stayed only briefly.
"In that chat format, some stay for a minute, some stay for 10," she said. "Speaking with families [in person] is how you build a relationship, so I don't think that these online fairs should ever replace that."
|By GFI on Saturday, January 19, 2002 - 10:07 pm: Edit|
Seems like the idea of an online "event" kind of defeats the 24/7 aspect of web interaction.
|By Dadster on Sunday, January 20, 2002 - 09:50 pm: Edit|
Colleges will try anything to interact with potential applicants.
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