Graduate enrollment rose in 2020 and 2021, but that doesn’t mean admissions officers can rest on their laurels. With undergraduate admissions falling behind, colleges and universities with graduate programs are relying on those student admissions more than ever.
Unfortunately, while expectations have risen, few graduate admissions offices have seen an influx of new resources. This means that, as a graduate admissions officer, you need to do more with less and work smarter, not harder. One of the best methods to do this is by leveraging virtual college fairs.
Convenience Is Key
Compared with high schoolers applying for undergraduate programs, graduate student prospects are notoriously hard to reach because they’re often working professionals and/or parents with numerous day-to-day responsibilities. As of 2015, about 76 percent of graduate students work at least 30 hours a week, and about 19 percent of all working learners (including undergrads) have children.
Since graduate applicants’ time is so limited, it’s up to graduate enrollment officers to decrease the investigative burden of exploring schools and bring the information to them. A virtual college fair is a great option because it’s convenient for applicants and admissions officers alike, resulting in more productive engagement and recruitment.
Potential applicants can attend virtual college fairs from anywhere, whether that’s the comfort of their home, a coffee shop, or a break room at work. This not only eliminates the logistics of traveling to an in-person event but also makes it easier to fit the event into a hectic schedule. Meanwhile, virtual fairs help time-crunched admission officers by allowing them to participate in multiple fairs without the time-consuming effort or expense of traveling to different schools or communities. It’s a win for everyone involved.
Reaching More Diverse Applicants
Convenience doesn’t just increase the number of overall prospects who can learn about your school; it increases the number of diverse applicants you can engage, as well. International students in particular are far more likely to attend a virtual college fair than to get on a plane to investigate schools. Given that international student admissions have been trending upward for the past decade, participating in virtual college fairs will help you take advantage of this trend and attract these interested students to your school.
Virtual fairs can also help admissions officers reach applicants who have difficulty attending in-person recruitment events, such students with mobility restrictions or visual or auditory disabilities. A virtual fair once again removes the burden of travel and enables these individuals to use whatever tools they need in their home environment. By removing the stress and difficulty of in-person events, virtual fairs are one way colleges can demonstrate that they are able and willing to accommodate all students.
Finally, virtual college fairs are attractive to graduate student applicants because they are an efficient, effective way to learn about multiple schools at once. To maximize the return on student and university participants’ time, GoToCollegeFairs provides a custom-built virtual college fair platform that mimics the in-person experience while adding resources and capabilities that enhance the event for all involved.
When applicants enter the virtual lobby, they can use customized filters to identify participating colleges, presentations, and educational sessions that best align with their interests. Once they hit the exhibition floor, they can bookmark and engage with select colleges in one-on-one or group formats, watch videos, and even apply on the spot. Virtual fairs allow potential applicants to strategize and personalize their experience in a way that is simply not available when investigating schools one by one.
Admissions officers can also benefit from GoToCollegeFairs’ unique virtual fair tools. With College Matchmaking™, for instance, you won’t need to guess who will be the best fit for your institution; the attendees will tell you themselves. When they register for a college fair with GoToCollegeFairs, prospective students select the attributes of the college experience they find desirable, and this data is pushed to the College Matchmaking™ database. As a subscriber, you’ll pay a flat price and receive the names and contact information of students who, through their selections, have declared your institution to be a good fit—providing a far more qualified list of student candidates than the typical demographics guessing game. Virtual college fairs can be a win-win for graduate school applicants and graduate admission officers. Their biggest benefits are convenience and efficiency: applicants can learn about many schools and admission officers can meet more students all at once, in a shorter amount of time and without the need for planes, trains, or automobiles. In an era of increasingly packed schedules, virtual college fairs are a great option for graduate students and admissions officers alike.