Your College's Virtual Presence
Your College's Profile Page
As soon as students sign up and enter a fair, they'll see a real-time list with the photo and name of each college exhibiting at that fair. Clicking on a college's photo or name will link them to the college's profile page.
For brand new exhibitors to the platform, the profile page will display a generic blue box and no information for your institution. You'll want to update your profile page as soon as possible after receiving login information for the admin.visitdays.com platform. At a minimum, add a beautiful campus photo and description (exhibitor bio).
Behind the scenes, your college's profile page is associated with data imported from IPEDs. This data allows students to filter and search for colleges by type of school (public or private, two-year or four-year), majors and programs offered, location, and school size.
Live Zoom Sessions
The NACAC Virtual College Fairs platform strongly highlights live Zoom sessions offered by colleges.
This is because students value access and engagement, and one way to provide this is through relevant and interesting sessions. When students enjoy an experience, they tell their friends. Word-of-mouth is gold!
Our expectation is that each exhibitor will offer at least two sessions that students can attend on the day of a fair.
Adding Your Session to the Platform
You will log into your own Zoom application to create a Zoom meeting. You will then add the Zoom meeting link into the VisitDays admin.visitdays.com platform along with a photo and session description.
Staffing Your Sessions
You will want to staff each of your Zoom sessions appropriately. We recommend that two staff members be at each session, one to present the content and one to answer questions that come in via chat.
Number of Sessions
For Spring 2021, colleges are able to offer up to six sessions per Signature Fair.
You may offer more than one session at the same time. Whenever you offer overlapping sessions, please be sure to use a different Zoom link for each.
We believe that no more than four sessions of no more than 30-40 minutes each will provide the most benefit to most students and colleges. The number of students likely to attend a session will vary by institution, and so the investment of resources in terms of time and staffing also needs to be considered.
For Spring 2021, you are able to set the start and end time of your sessions. These may be the maximum length designated for that fair. Sessions at Signature Fairs may be up to 60 minutes long.
You can choose who on your staff will be responsible for presenting each session. Depending on your goals, you may want to offer:
- Presentation - A Zoom session organized as a lecture, with an admission representative speaking to a large audience
- Panel - A Zoom session on a particular topic with one or more guest panelists and an admission representative serving as moderator
- Q&A - A Zoom session organized as an "Ask Me Anything" with the admission representative fielding student questions
- Discussion - A Zoom session for a small group where the admission representative and students can have a conversation and ask questions among the group
Engage. We encourage you to offer frequent interaction opportunities during your session and a Q&A. Monitor and answer questions that come in via chat. Take every opportunity to connect with students.
Inform. NACAC requires that all presentations and promotional materials at college fairs be informational in nature. If you’re unsure whether something is appropriate or not, please contact email@example.com. Similarly, please let us know if you notice a college or university that is not following this guideline.
Clear. Make sure your presenter has a good Internet connection, a good mic, and a clear voice.
Invite. If your session would benefit from it, we encourage you to invite current students or alumni to present with you.
Drop-Ins. Presenting via Zoom is its own art! For example, there's less of a norm for participants to show up to online sessions on time and so you'll want to build in five minutes up front to give students a chance to filter in. Students may drop in at anytime.
Swag. You can make an impression by including your college's logo in your Zoom background or by making sure college swag is within view of the camera.
All times on the NACAC Virtual College Fairs platform are listed in Eastern Time.
Make sure that the meeting link you created in your Zoom application has a start time that corresponds with what students see as the start time when they look at your session description on virtualcollegefairs.org (Eastern Time).
If you need to make a change, you'll want to do so both in your Zoom application and at admin.visitdays.com so that the session times correspond.
If one of your sessions is intended for international students, you'll want to consider what hours within the fair period is more convenient for their time zone.
The following are examples of sessions that admission departments might offer "in real life." Some of these may inspire an idea for one of the Zoom virtual sessions your college will offer!
- Q&A With Current Students
- Ask Me Anything: Talk With an Admission Representative
- How to Transfer to College
- School of Computing: Information Session
- Admissions Overview: How to Apply to College
- Forging Your Pre-Med Path at College
- Coronavirus and Applying to College
- Student Ambassadors: Ask Us Anything
- Inside the Honors Program
- Financial Aid at College
- Accelerated Programs: Six Years to a PhD
- Playing Sports at College
- Study Abroad Panel
- Diversity and Inclusion at College
- Student Life at College
- Rock Star Faculty: Meet Dr.
- Where Are They Now? Famous Alumni
- Greeks: Fraternity and Sorority Life at College
You may choose to record your Zoom session (or not). If someone misses your session, they may want to view the recording and could contact you for a link.
We don't recommend recording your session and then uploading it to the Videos section of the platform. The videos you highlight there should be highly engaging and less than four minutes long.
Live Chat Now Available!
We’re pleased to announce that Live Chat is now available. 😊
No doubt about it, chat is the most requested new feature for NACAC Virtual College Fairs. We heard you, and our technology provider VisitDays has made it happen for the Spring 2021 season.
Exhibitors will have access to the new Live Chat feature starting Feb. 17 at 12 p.m. ET. See below for a description, screenshots, and a video overview of this exciting new way to connect with prospective students.
Simply log into admin.visitdays.com as you normally do. You’ll see a new “Live Chat” option on the left navigation bar.
By default, Live Chat is turned off. To turn it on, go to the upper right and click on "Organization Chat Availability."
Live Chat is a completely optional feature. You can choose to let students know your institution is available to text chat... or not.
What happens when Live Chat is available?
When Live Chat is on, students will be able to click the "Chat" button that appears on your college's profile page and initiate a chat conversation with your institution. (More details about how students experience Live Chat is in a section below).
From the exhibitor perspective, Live Chat is managed from your account at admin.visitdays.com. You'll see a screen like the one above. The center section is a queue that shows a list of individuals who have initiated a chat with your institution. Click on a person’s name to see on the right side a real-time view of the conversation with that person.
Everyone from your institution (your "users") will see the same information: the messages that have come in and the conversation histories. Any of your users (except those with Read Only access) can respond to any message.
When a new chat message comes in, it will appear at the top of the queue. If you have not looked at the conversation before, a dot will appear next to the person’s name. The message will be time stamped according to your institution's time zone.
One great feature to keep in mind → You don’t have to ask for the student's name or contact information! You’ve already got that. The student’s name is displayed in the queue and their name, contact information, and other information is provided in your institution's Prospects Report.
What happens when Live Chat is unavailable?
When Live Chat is off, students will see a "Leave a Message" button on your college's profile page. They can still send your institution a text message, but unlike with chat, there's no expectation that they'll receive a text response back.
Leaving a message — just like engaging in chat — automatically adds the student to your Prospects Report. Your institution may then choose to fold students who "Leave a Message" into an offline communications stream.
Or, you may in fact decide to respond back asynchronously via text. The student will always have access to your response from their chat window. (More details about how students experience Live Chat is in a section below).
Above is a video overview of the Live Chat feature, as provided by VisitDays.
What About Staffing?
The most frequent question exhibitors ask about the new Live Chat feature is related to staffing: "How do we know how many people to assign to answer chats?".
Because this is everyone's first time out, we’re unable to make recommendations based on past data from NACAC Virtual College Fairs. What we do know is that staffing is something that concerns every company that offers online help to customers. A webpage titled “Determine your staffing requirements” from ZenDesk even offers a staffing formula.
You'll want to consider factors such as the following:
- How many visitors do you expect during the period that chat is available?
If you participated in previous NACAC Virtual College Fairs, take a look at your Prospects Report. See how many students became a prospect as a result of visiting your profile page during a fair. This will give you a sense of how many students will see the “Chat” button on your profile page and might want to click on it.
If hundreds of students are visiting your profile page during a fair, then it's safe to say you'll probably need more than one person to handle chat questions. If you're seeing less than 20 visits, one person is likely enough.
- When will you offer Live Chat?
Your institution can make Live Chat available at any time — before a fair, during a fair, or not at all. We anticipate that most exhibitors will make Live Chat available during fair hours. Whenever Live Chat is on, at least one staff person should be responsible for replying. If you're getting too many messages, you can always turn Live Chat off.
- Will your responses be quick or in-depth?
We're not sure how students will use the Live Chat feature. If they use it to ask quick questions, then the amount of staff time needed to answer those will be low.
But if students (or your institution) intends to use Live Chat to engage as much as possible, then the conversations may take five minutes or more each. You may want to set parameters around how long a staff person should plan to spend on each chat conversation.
Also consider providing staff with suggestions on how to "wrap up" a conversation and take it to the next level. You could, for example, encourage the student to attend your next live session. Provide them with a link to your live sessions page so they can set a reminder (and be marked as a live session attendee on your Prospects Report).
Or, wrap things up by letting the student know you'll follow up with an email, or encourage them to use the "Schedule a Meeting" feature, or provide a link to your website so they can fill out an interest form.
- How many chats will each staff person serve simultaneously?
NACAC's own experience with chat has revealed that one staff person can handle about four conversations at a time. This varies by person, however.
Another variable is how long your institution is comfortable leaving a student's question unanswered until a staff person can reply. Although immediate is best, given everyone's short attention spans, you could send a response later. If, in the meantime, the student has navigated to another area of virtualcollegefairs.org or started a chat with another institution, they'll still have access to your response in their chat window.
- How many people have the permission to answer?
Anyone who has been designated a user on your institution’s VisitDay’s account (admin.visitdays.com) will be able to respond to chat messages. If you want to put some limits on this, change a user’s permission to “Read Only” and they won’t be able to reply to chats.
What Kind of Messages Can We Send?
Live Chat has many of the same great features that we’re all familiar with from texting on our cell phones.
For example, both student and institution users will see messages in real time, with a date stamp, and with a “new” indicator. A profile photo will display for each staff person who is responding. Students will have access to a built-in emoji picker (not yet available to exhibitors) and both parties can respond with hyperlinks to photos, videos, and PDFs that will open in a new tab.
What Happens if a Student Sends an Inappropriate Message?
So far, we've only had one student incident on the NACAC Virtual College Fairs site and don't anticipate any issues. But, just in case, you'll want to talk among your staff and decide how to respond to any inappropriate chat messages. Please also immediately send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can disable the student's account.
At this time, exhibitors don't have the ability to "close" a chat conversation, although this function will be available later.
Will Students Who Chat With Us Be Included On Our Prospects Report?
Yes! Because Live Chat is connected to your Prospects Report, you’ll receive full contact information for each person who engaged with your institution via chat. This allows your institution to follow up with email, text, or snail mail.
How Do Students Experience Live Chat?
Live Chat is only available to students and other members of the public who are registered on the virtualcollegefairs.org platform.
Students and families initiate all chat messages. They do so from each college's profile page. That's where they'll see a blue "Chat" button above the blue "Schedule a Meeting" button. Please see the sample screenshot below.
If your institution has not enabled Live Chat, then the "Chat Button" will not appear and instead a "Leave a Message" button will show. A standard note will also display that says "We're currently not available to chat, please leave a message."
To the right is a sample screenshot of how chat will appear to a student on a mobile device once conversations have started. Because a student may end up chatting with several different colleges, the chat window will organize the conversations by institution. (Note: college logos will probably not be displayed until later in the season). When a student is on an institution's profile page, the conversation with that particular institution will float to the top of their window.
Students always have access to their chat window. It is sticky to the bottom right of their screen. When a new reply comes in from an institution, the chat icon turns red so the student is notified. Although students must initiate a conversation from an institution's profile page, they can reply from anywhere on the virtualcollegefairs.org site via their chat window.
If you have any questions, please contact VisitDays technical support at email@example.com.
The "Schedule a Meeting" feature connects your staff directly with interested students.
You decide how many virtual meeting spots to make available to students and on what dates and times. Meetings may be added starting Dec. 1.
How much staff time you devote to this will depend on how many students you think you will attract. Most NACAC Virtual College Fairs are held on Sundays, which requires staff to be available on the weekend with their Zoom link open and ready to talk with students who set an appointment prior to or during the fair. Although students are sent several text reminders about their meetings, some may not show up.
Students will see the available meeting dates and times on your college's profile page. With a simple click, the meeting gets added to their My Schedule tab. We'll then send text reminders to students about attending.
Additional information is available on the FAQs page.
You may provide links to an unlimited number of videos. The videos will also appear on your college profile page.
In addition, all videos will appear at the top of the site under Videos. The videos are displayed in alphabetical order by title. Students can also use the "filter" feature to narrow this list by college location, size of school, and other factors. The filter option is a little hard to see on the desktop, it's all the way to the right.
We recommend that these be interesting and engaging videos that are under four minutes long.
Additional information is available on the FAQs page.
When you create a session or add a video, you have the option to add tags. We encourage you to do this. The tags help students find content that's relevant and interesting to them. Please don't be spammy and choose all of the tags, just those that are most relevant to what you're offering.
The following are the tag options:
- Accessibility Services
- Adult Learners
- Diversity & Inclusion
- Financial Aid
- First Year Students
- Gap Year
- Student Life
- Study Abroad
- Transfer Students
Attachments can be added in two places — on the page for your live Zoom session and on the page for your videos. These are intended as additional resources that complement the content of the session or video.
Attachments cannot currently be added to a college's profile page.
Note: Attachments are not uploaded, they are actually links to URLs that you have added. These can be links, for example, to viewbooks, campus maps, and other resources on your website.
Additional information is available on the FAQs page.