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Friday Guest Column: The Rise of Virtual College Fairs

Heather Johnson is a regular contributor to Online Education Database (OEDb).

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Recently, CollegeWeekLive hosted the largest virtual college fair in history. Its success and the success of virtual college fairs in the past indicate that traditional colleges have started to embrace students' digital world.

A virtual college fair offers everything you might see at a traditional college fair. Participating colleges set up online "booths," offering information about the school in the form of an online brochures, virtual campus tours, video testimonials. Live Q&A makes the experience unique. Potential applicants from around the world can question professors, students, alumni and financial aid counselors.

Both college-bound high school students and their parents can participate with virtual college fairs. This can save a tremendous amount in travel expenses, as they can "tour" many colleges at once. Environmentally conscious students will also appreciate the eco-friendly nature of the virtual college fair. Distance learners will no longer feel obligated to physically visit a campus. It won't be necessary.

Last year, Second Life hosted its first online college fair on the teen grid, which included Penn State, University of Kentucky, and Bowling Green State (see here.) CollegeWeekLive attracted Rutgers, Baylor University, Texas Tech and the Air Force Academy. With virtual college fairs now attracting thousands of attendees and dozens of accredited schools, perhaps more people will become comfortable with the notion of distance education. This is a boon for those attending online colleges and traditional colleges, as e-learning is unmistakably a big part of the future of education, including higher education.

Heather invites your comments and freelancing inquiries at [email protected]


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