FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Imagine the checkout line at your neighborhood food market, but with students lining up to be scanned instead of your groceries. That is the growing scene at college fairs across the country since the National Association for College Admission Counseling introduced barcode scanners at several of its National College Fairs.
The technology allows applicants to fill out their contact information online and can then print out their own personal barcode to take to the fair.
In turn, colleges attending the fair can rent scanners, allowing students to swipe their barcodes at the colleges they are interested in. Universities can download an applicant's information on the computer within 24 hours after the fair.
Gregory Ferguson, the director of National College Fairs, says the program was designed to simplify the registration process and reduces the time consumed by applicants having to fill out informational cards at booth after booth.
"Applicants can talk with the college representatives about their institution rather than spending time filling out cards," Ferguson said.
Ferguson says the technology also allows students to visit more colleges in a shorter amount of time.
"It's a useful tool and colleges are getting more students in their application pool as a result of the scanner," Ferguson said.
While questions have been raised that the scanners could further reduce the need of personal contact between the applicant and the recruiter, Ferguson said it hasn't been an issue.
"Students are using this as a valuable resource in the college search process," Ferguson said.
Ferguson said the scanners especially benefit the bigger schools that are inundated with students at college fairs.
"Even if a student can't talk to a representative, the school can follow up with a telephone call or send information," Ferguson said.
Martha Byrd, the dean of undergraduate admissions at Arizona State University, said ASU is not currently using the system, but is hoping to participate in it when the college fair circuit starts back up in the fall.
"I think it could be a great benefit," Byrd said.
Byrd says the system could possibly increase the chance of students scanning their information who are not completely committed to ASU, but also acknowledges the many advantages.
Since ASU is such a large university and typically sees numerous students coming up to its booths at college fairs, Byrd says the scanners would help recruiters to have more one on one conversations with students.
Byrd says the technology would also lead to more accurate information, since students often have poor penmanship or leave out information when they are filling out cards by hand.
"We are hoping that by having more accurate information, our contact with the students will be much more beneficial, leading to more applicants, and hopefully higher enrollment," Byrd said.
The National College Fairs is currently using the barcode scanners at 20 of their 50 fairs, but plans to gradually bring the system to all of its fairs by 2012.
"Lead retrieval is the way of the future because it brings technology and ease to the college search process," Ferguson said.
Milwaukee National College Fair goes green with scanner technology
Students who attend the Milwaukee National College Fair can no longer complain about having writer's cramp. Students who take advantage of pre-registration will be able to have their information electronically scanned by colleges, thus cutting down time on completing countless information cards.
Over the last few years, National College Fairs have been going green with scanner technology and it is proving to become a win-win situation for all parties involved. Going paperless have saved colleges' data entry time and printing costs. Students have gained greater conveniences by being able to have their information scanned, thus allowing more time to have productive interactions with college representatives.
Pre-registration is free and three easy steps:
- Students go to the National College Fairs pre-registration website. (click on the city of the fair and enter personal/academic information)
- Once the student completes the information form they will be able to print out their custom admittance pass which contains their name, high school, "class of" designation and barcode.
- Students bring the pass to the fair and can have it scanned by colleges. Once schools have their data, the student will receive further information from their institutions.
While scanner technology helps fair-goers become more efficient, it cannot do all of the work for the student. It is important for students to prepare for the fair. Joel Buschmann, Assistant Director of Admission at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside stresses, "The more preparation students can do before the fair, the more opportunity they will have to have concrete conversations with universities/colleges that are a better fit for them."
Scanner technology combined with pre-fair preparation is the ideal for students. Buschmann adds, "It allows more time to stop at other college booths who they may not be familiar with or who they had not been able to research ahead of time."
Students should note that there may be a few schools that will not use scanners. One tip to stay efficient with these schools is to print the student's name, address, email/phone, year of graduation and major/minor on labels that they can affix to any info cards.
If you want to reap the benefits of going-green at the college fair you need to start by visiting the National College Fair pre-registration website. The 2010 Milwaukee National College Fair takes place on Sunday October 24th at the Frontier Airlines Center (formerly Midwest Express Center) from 12:00p.m. – 3:30p.m.
College Fairs Nationwide “Go Green” With Electronic Data Capture of Student Information
Princeton, NJ—October 27, 2009—Every year, hundreds of thousands of high school students attend college fairs seeking information about colleges, universities and other post-secondary institutions. These fairs offer a convenient, efficient venue for college bound hopefuls and admissions representatives to gather information about each other, seeking the perfect fit. While colleges and universities spend marketing dollars on glossy, informative brochures, students may come to the fairs a little less prepared, so most college admission representatives ask them to fill out an information card. That is, until now.
In 2007, NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) rolled out a pilot program where the students actually pre-register for the fair online. With the support of the high school counselors, thousands of students now take the time to fill out a form once. This form includes all the information typically requested by admissions representatives during conversations at the fair. “The online registration process creates a bar code that the students bring with them to the fair,” says Steve Cooper of College Fair Automation by TRC, the technology provider for the NACAC fairs. “The college reps use a pocket size scanner to scan the bar code and capture all the information. It streamlines the process for students and colleges and improves the traffic flow of the whole fair.”
After the fair, students return home with stacks of brochures, business cards, even virtual tours on DVD. College representatives, likewise, return with important information on students that made an impression. In the past, this information was collected on hundreds of cards that were then converted into some useable format. Dealing with the cards after the fair was almost as unhappy a task as dealing with them at the table.
“Two to three days after the fair, the colleges have all their leads emailed to them in an excel spreadsheet, so they can start the follow up process right away,” Mr. Cooper explains. “For the college representatives, the benefit continues even beyond the experience at the fair.”
“The technology allows for more meaningful contact and conversation with prospective students who don’t have to waste time filling out contact cards in written form,” applauds Philip Berry a frequent NACAC attendee from Pennsylvania College of Technology, “and the elimination of errors resulting from illegible handwriting is invaluable.”
While the automation of student data is more efficient for everyone, the solution is also timely: by eliminating thousands of information cards, NACAC has created a more environmentally friendly college fair. Going forward, that’s becoming more and more important, both for image and for funding.
Newcomers to the college fair circuit may never know just how good they have it.