The CUSD Virtual College Fair In Numbers:
The Capistrano Unified School District hosted its Virtual College Fair the week of October 18-21. This event gave CUSD students and families access to 4 days of fully online, live college showcases and college-related breakout sessions. The annual college fair is a staple experience for the district’s high school students. Over 1,600 students registered for events across the week and over 900 attendees and 100+ College Reps joined live for the fair this year, totaling over 1,000 participants who actively participated in this most successful event. Overall, attendance was high and participant and college rep satisfaction increased from last year to this year.
Futureology (CUSD’s Free College and Career Counseling program) with the support of the Capistrano Council of PTSAs partnered to organize this online event as they have done for the last 6 years.
This year’s Virtual College Fair provided students and families with access to over 100 colleges and universities, 14+ Mini College Showcases, and expert presentations on the most popular college-related topics including: Financial Aid, Testing in a Test-Optional Landscape, Athletic Recruiting, The Western Undergraduate Exchange, and much more.
Revamping the Virtual Experience:
This was our Virtual 2.0 year and we made some big adjustments that resulted in massive success and participant satisfaction (yes, the feedback is coming in and we are receiving an overwhelming number of positive comments from both families and college reps). Our intention was to help families make the most use of their time.
Last year, the virtual fair featured two large college showcases as well as virtual college table visits with individual college representatives. Based on College Rep and CUSD Families’ feedback, the CUSD Futureology team restructured this year’s fair to reflect the recommendations of all participants, resulting in smaller, more manageable showcases which allowed families to better absorb information and learn more specific details about each institution. We did away with the Virtual Table Visits and transitioned to a live Q&A at the end of each showcase, which gave families an opportunity to pose the same question to six colleges at a time instead of hopping from table to table asking the individual schools the same question.
What Was Special About This Year:
A unique feature of this year’s fair was the program-specific and region-specific showcases, which allowed families to attend sessions that aligned with their personal college preferences and interests. Schools presented in a 6x6 format in which six schools presented for six minutes with time for a Q&A at the end. These mini showcases provided students with manageable and efficient exploration opportunities-- in just over 30 minutes, students learned about six institutions and gained access to admissions contact information for each school. It was the best of both worlds, combining an overview of institutions and the conversation piece that a table visit would offer through the Q&A portion at the end of each showcase. It would be difficult to obtain that much information in that amount of time at an in-person event, when one takes into consideration the crowd and lines. Our objective was to make the experience as fruitful and convenient as possible for our students. By attending these mini showcases, students were able to learn about schools they have never heard of before, which is one of the most important components of effective college exploration.
Region and Program Specific Showcases:
Region-specific showcases allowed students to explore colleges based on US Regions, this was a great opportunity for students to learn more about colleges and universities based on a particular region of interest. Program-specific showcases were a great way for students to explore schools based on programs of interest, schools highlighted programs such as: Art and Design, Business, Nursing/Healthcare, and International Options.
Furthermore, the CUSD Virtual College Fair week featured Showcases for our California Post Secondary Options, including a Community College Showcase, a California Private Colleges Showcase, and a UC + CSU Showcase.
Breakout Sessions on College Related Topics:
Instead of contending with crowds in breakout rooms in a physical location, families were able to log into breakout sessions of their choice from the comfort of their own home. Some of our most popular topics included Financial Aid basics, What’s up with WUE (which discussed affordable ways for students to attend school at certain out of state schools), NCAA Basics for Athletic Recruits, Options for Students interested in STEM, and How College Decisions are Made.
Additional Features for this year:
An extra added bonus of the virtual platform was that every single event was recorded and will be available online, on the CUSD Futureology College Fair page as well as on the CUSD Futureology YouTube channel. Families who missed the event will be able to access the fair on-demand, at their convenience.
Additionally, this year, we were able to provide not only Spanish Speaking sessions (which we had last year) but also added Live Spanish Translation for a number of our most popular sessions. Thank you to our district’s amazing translation team for their support in this area!
Feedback from CUSD participants:
“This was sooo much better than the in person sessions that were overly crowded! We look forward to reviewing the sessions we were unable to attend.”
“I like the virtual webinars, good pace, lots of detail given, and convenient from home. Send regular emails about events and previous recordings. Thank you”
“I learned about a few new schools which was awesome!”
“Well moderated, great speakers and easy to follow. It was a lot of information so I am very happy that the recordings will be available for reference.”
Feedback from College Reps:
“Your organization and communication was AMAZING. Much appreciated”
“Thank you for your thorough communication and the opportunity to present so many international options for your students!”
“The communication for the fair was clear and concise. This presentation has differed from similar events in the length of the program that are 45 minutes.”
“This was a great event and well organized!”