The Problem With Virtual College Fairs

NACAC event on Sunday initially crashed, delaying student participation.

September 14, 2020
 

The National Association for College Admission Counseling held its first college fair of the fall on Sunday, but the event was delayed for an hour by a computer problem.

Angel B. Pérez, CEO of NACAC, said via email, "When the website for the fair opened up at noon, the site was overwhelmed due to a massive volume of students trying to log on at the same time. We ended up having over 20,000 students register, many at the last minute which is wonderful. However, it crashed the site. The company hosting the fairs worked expediently to fix it within an hour and students now have access. The fair is scheduled to go from noon-8 p.m., so we lost one hour, but hopefully the other seven will give enough time for the colleges and students to engage with each other."

But Gil Rogers, executive vice president of PlatformQ Education, was critical of the effort. He said via email, "There is a lot of pressure on admissions officers and counseling staffs to replicate as many of the in-person experiences of the college search as possible. This includes face-to-face visits via Zoom to individual schools and virtual fairs. The unfortunate reality is that what we are likely seeing is the creation of experiences that will result in a lot of effort with hard to prove results, which are no too dissimilar to the traditional methods. College admissions offices are better suited to focus on their own content plans and informed use of data to better drive their recruitment priorities this year and in the future rather than attempting to replicate outdated practices in a virtual format."

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