By Yaffa Klugerman
November 3, 2009
Families who wish to travel to prospective college campuses but who cannot afford to do so are taking advantage of virtual college fairs, which provide online access to admissions representatives from institutions throughout the world.
"We're not going to replace the college visit," noted Robert Rosenbloom, creator of CollegeWeekLive.com, who was interviewed by The Boston Channel. "But in today's economic times, students and parents, they can't afford to visit 10, 15 colleges."
The Web site, which was founded in 2007, will hold its fall fair from November 4-7. Families will be able to receive information from nearly 300 schools while participating in webinars and webcam chats with admission counselors, financial aid officials and current students.
"There are a lot of colleges out there, and it's really hard to get a lot of information about them all in one place. The online fair was a fun and interactive way to do it," said Patrick Wheat, a high school junior who was interviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The virtual event allowed him to check out Connecticut's Trinity College and Hawaii Pacific University.
Parents agree that such college fairs make sense during a recession. "Our finances are not what they once were," said his mother Colleen. "I don't see us taking a weeklong visit. . .. The kids are so comfortable online. For them to look at these colleges this way is as comfortable as looking online for a pair of shoes."
The virtual tours make financial sense for colleges as well. Todd Coleman, assistant vice president of admissions at Wartburg College in Iowa, told eSchoolNews [from an article originally located at http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=61317] that the event allows the college to reach many more students than through more traditional methods.
"We [have] received great leads from the online fair and have a good number of prospects, parents, and high school counselors who visit our virtual booth for more information," he said. "The live student chat that we have done each year has really been a big winner for us, and our student [representative] never has enough time to answer all of the questions. What this allows us to do is reach audiences that would normally cost us several thousand dollars to reach between the college fairs costs and travel expenses."
Similar Web sites include EducationXpo.com, which will hold a free fair on November 12; the Green College Tour, which will host a fall fair on November 13, and the Tom Joyner Virtual College Fair, which focuses on historically black colleges and universities.