Aug 25, 2010

NACAC College Fairs Go Green with Electronic Scanning Devices

Anyone who has attended a NACAC college fair can attest that they tend to be paper-intensive events. Between large glossy view books, brochures, and piles of registration cards, colleges and students typically engage in a frantic paper exchange designed to support mutual information sharing.

But now some of the waste may be coming to an end. Since 2007, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has been piloting an online pre-registration program that links students with colleges through the magic of a bar code that may be scanned during encounters at a college fair.

“The online registration process creates a bar code that the students bring with them to the fair,” said Steve Cooper of College Fair Automation by TRC. “It streamlines the process for students and colleges and improves the flow of the whole fair.”

Logging on to the student registration site at, students provide basic contact information, an indication of academic interests, and graduation year and high school. In return, they receive a personalized bar code that is printed out and brought to the fair. College reps scan the bar code as a way to retrieve information thereby eliminating the need for filling out registration cards at every booth.

After the fair, students return home with the usual brochures and business cards. Colleges return with important information on students. “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,” Cooper explained.

The complete schedule of fall National College Fairs is now available on the NACAC website. Pre-registration is available for 13 fairs, including greater Washington, DC, scheduled for Tuesday, October 12 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and Baltimore, scheduled for October 18-19, at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Students unable to register online ahead of time may use a computer and printer at participating fairs to get admittance passes with personalized bar codes. Be warned, however, lines tend to develop quickly in the vicinity of the registration area, and students who register in advance save lots of time.

Note that pre-registration is not required to attend NACAC college fairs—they are free and open to the public.

While the automation of student data is clearly a boon to information-sharing, the greatest benefit lies in the creation of a more environmentally friendly college fair. It’s a win-win.

For more information and the complete schedule of National College Fairs, visit NACAC online.

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