Once upon a time, choosing a new college meant several long road trips with Mom and Dad! Either you drove to each college you wanted to see one by one. Or you drove to the nearest college fair – where you’d jockey with thousands of other hopefuls in a marathon crunch of admissions officers, student counselors and financial aid reps! Well, according to an article we found in Newsweek, those college road trips may be a thing of the past thanks to a website called CollegeWeeklyLive.com. This spring, they brought 50-thousand students together with 200 colleges – for the first ever “virtual” college fair online! Many say it could be the wave of the future in college admissions.

Here’s how it works: In a virtual fair, students log in to the lobby of a virtual convention center – complete with 3-D gardens and escalators. From there, you click on different banners, that whisk you away to various interactive “rooms.” In one room, for example, you might participate in a live Q&A with a college’s admissions director.  In another room, you could chat with students who already attend that school. Click a 3rd room, and you could apply to a college right there online, or download information about financial aid!

Unfortunately, a lot of this would be impossible to do at a real fair – since face time is precious in a crowded convention hall. Also, physical college fairs tend to only hit major cities – bypassing an estimated 85% of potential applicants! That makes virtual fairs a real goldmine for small schools like Drexel University in Philadelphia. Their admissions office received nearly one hundred more contacts online than they’ve ever gotten at a real fair. The admissions staff at Sierra Nevada College, in northern California, got applications from as far away as Guam – well outside their usual range of California and Nevada!
Of course, experts warn that online research should only be the first step in selecting a college, but thanks to virtual sites like CollegeWeeklyLive.com, taking that first step has become easier than ever.