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Virtual college fairs

Today’s youth, the Net Generation, is increasingly comfortable with exchanging real life experiences for virtual ones. The latest is the annual college tour that many high school students undertake before selecting a post secondary institution. While their parents would take the time and incur considerable expense to visit the few colleges that they were interested in, their children rather jump online to browse hundreds of schools at once. One of the largest virtual college tours is put on by CollegeWeekLive. The first event which took place last November attracted 15 000 students from 28 countries who “visited” 130 U.S. colleges. The events are highly interactive – there are live video sessions with admissions experts and counselors, live chat with current students, virtual speakers and video contests. The events also allow schools to set up virtual booths with brochures, videos, webinars, podcasts and live IM. While it is unlikely that the physical college tours will be eliminated entirely, the virtual experience allows N-Geners to be more informed when narrowing their choices to a few schools they will want to visit. It also provides international students with the ability to learn more about the schools that they will likely not have a chance to visit before they make their decisions. It will be interesting to see what other experiences will be taken online as the gap between the physical and virtual world narrows further.

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