Rick Clark of the Kentucky Country Day School (KCD) has convinced the school, admissions representatives and students to participate in a different kind of college fair. At this college fair the admission representatives submit a list of five things that are unique or outstanding about their school and they are not allowed to identify what college they represent when meeting the students for the first time. The students are given the list of unique characteristics and spend 45 minutes interacting with the representatives about things on the list that caught their attention. After a break where the groups separate and talk about their experiences, the representatives are allowed to bring out all their shiny and colorful recruitment materials and visit with the students in a traditional college fair environment.
Brennan Barnard, a contributor to Forbes online reported positive feedback from both representatives and students to this unusual college fair. The representatives enjoyed having students visit their tables who may not have shown any interest under normal circumstances and the students approached schools with programs they found interesting instead of concentrating on the reputation of the name. Both sides agreed that if the focus is fit, this is a good way to match students with the right college.
I would very much like to see my clients have access to a college fair of similar design. One of the most challenging things I face is convincing a student who is enamored with an elite college to consider a school they have never heard of that provides an amazing education in their area of interest. If the names were hidden and the programs took front and center for a change, finding the right college is suddenly not so hard.
Who would have a problem with this kind of college fair? The elite colleges get five to 10 times more applications than the available seats anyway. They have very little to lose; and the smaller colleges would get visitors who would otherwise have walked right past them.
Mr. Clark might be onto something here. Whether it is an intended or unintended outcome, taking out some of the hype surrounding the college application process and replacing it with logic and common sense is definitely a good thing.