Washburn logs on to CollegeWeekLive

Victoria Garcia

With the changing market and an increase in the reliance on technology, it’s no wonder the idea of a virtual college fair has hit the ground running and only seems to be picking up speed.

It’s called CollegeWeekLive and it intends to connect high school students, parents and guidance counselors from across the country with Washburn University and more than 200 other universities in a live, interactive environment.

On March 25 and 26 prospective students had the opportunity to log on to CollegeWeekLive and check out the Washburn booth, which contained a wide range of information about a number of aspects pertaining to the campus and the academic life of the university. Furthermore, students were able to use the booth’s live chat feature to talk with a Washburn admissions counselor or a number of current students.

Admissions counselors Ronnie Murphy and Brandi Willis Schreiber explained that Allen Dickes, dean of enrollment management, was the first to bring up CollegeWeekLive after reading an article about it in USA Today. This is Washburn’s first year participating in the experience.

Murphy believes the Web site has been effective because it matches the lifestyle of many teenagers and young adults. On both days, the evening hours between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. brought in the highest amount of traffic for the Washburn booth.

“Because kids are spending a good amount of time on MySpace and Facebook, it’s no wonder that a concept such as this is right up their alley,” said Murphy.

Upon creating a username and logging in, the virtual fair resembles a Sims game, with characters walking about in a modern college fair environment. As an incentive, Washburn randomly gave away one $500 scholarship to one high school student who logged on and visited the Washburn booth on either day of the fair. The scholarship could be used if the student decides to attend Washburn in the fall of 2008 or at a later term.

“The scholarship was a huge selling point, it seemed, and our booth had a pretty decent turnout overall,” said Murphy.

Both Murphy and Willis Schreiber agreed that the virtual college fair is quite comparable to the actual fair in regard to price range, if not cheaper.

“In many ways, it’s better than an actual fair,” said Willis Schreiber, “because instead of setting up a booth for several hours in the afternoon, students had from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on both days.”

Murphy believes that as the Internet grows more prevalent than it is already, the powerful Web-based software and services of CollegeWeekLive will follow in step.

“I see this as being huge and I don’t think it will decrease,” said Murphy. “If anything, I see it replacing the actual college fairs and high school visits. An increase wouldn’t at all surprise me.”