North Park Participates in Online College Fair

North Park participates in online college fair

CHICAGO (October 14, 2009) – What’s the latest green initiative catching on in the world of higher education? It could be online college fairs.

North Park University participated in its first online fair on Friday, October 2, along with about 20 other colleges and universities across the nation. The event was the second hosted by the Green College Tour Program, a start-up organization that plans to facilitate monthly fairs for various schools through its Friday Online Fair Series.

“The idea is to reach high school students in a virtual setting to reduce the carbon footprint and expenses that traditional fairs require,” explains Kurt Peterson, North Park’s director of outreach programs. These expenses have included everything from travel to printing costs for promotional materials.

About 1,000 high school students logged on during their school day and conversed with admissions representatives in chat rooms. All of the students were from northern California or from the Chicago Public School system, and all are a part of AVID programs within their respective schools. AVID (“Achievement Via Individual Determination”) is an academic support program that helps prepare students from disadvantaged backgrounds for college, enrolling them in their schools’ most challenging honors and advanced placement courses to improve their academic success. Many could become first-generation college students, Peterson says.

Although he believes the concept of online fairs is a good one, he adds that it is “still in its infancy” and will need to become more robust before it could replace traditional fairs—if ever.

Peterson admits that providing students a series of electronic links may not have the same impact as giving them an attractive brochure or viewbook. Links may never be visited, but hard copies, if not read, are often at least scanned.

“There is still something powerful about communicating directly with students and parents, gauging their level of interest about North Park, and getting our materials in their hands,” he says. “Hopefully our distinctives—Christian, urban, and multicultural—stand out, in addition to our programming at the University.”