Tag Archives: National Association for College Admission Counseling

The new technology at college fairs, what does it say?

Arm with barcode tattoo

There is a new piece of technology at NACAC college fairs, the “pocket sized laser scanner” which allows college reps to quickly scan student’s contact information if the student has registered online before the fair.  NACAC created a video explaining the tool which is found on YouTube.

NACAC debuted the scanner at select national fairs last spring, however they came at an extra cost to the school.  At 19 national fairs this spring, Admission reps are encouraged to use the scanners without paying additional fees.

I spoke with an admission colleague at Saint Michael’s College, Jeremy Brown, to get the scoop:

What benefits are there for admission officers, when participating at NACAC fairs that have scanners?
The biggest benefit is that the students’ information is legible and thorough. No more struggling to make out a student’s name, e-mail or physical address. Also, because presenting a bar code out is easier than filling out in inquiry card, the admissions representative has an opportunity to gather more leads.

Personally, the biggest benefit was that it let the geek inside of me sing with joy! Using gadgets is so fun and that little “beeeeeep-beep” that would sound when the code was read was just awesome!!!

What benefits are there to the prospective students?
Without a doubt, it makes the process a lot less daunting for the student. I have seen some kids at other fairs who have inquiry card-fatigue near the end of a fair and may be less apt to fill out that inquiry card than when they first got to the fair. Even the kids who are smart and bring labels for inquiry cards may run out.

Do you see any drawbacks to either party?
With the ease that comes with the Lead Retrieval devices, an admissions rep will definitely get more prospects, some of which will be soft prospects. The student will get more college materials in the mail and the college will have a group of students who may not be entirely interested and just were “scanned” because their friend was being “scanned”.

But if the college’s messaging is strong and they have a solid communication plan, the hope will be to move them from a ‘soft prospect’ to a student who visits your campus and is won over by the school.
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What does this say about our society? We want convenience.  We want information quickly.  We can not be bothered to have a 3 minute conversation with an admission rep or take 1 minute to fill out a contact card.

What does this say about higher ed? Are we turning students into merchandise?  Do we value quantity versus quality?  Is this a sign that higher education is less “education” and more “business?”

Do you think the benefits of using a scanner outweigh the negatives?  What are your thoughts?  Contribute to the discussion in the comments.


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