Idaho’s virtual college fair starts Tuesday

The State Board of Education is launching an online virtual college fair this week to combat all the campus tours and college visits that have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-day virtual college fair runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. It is free and open to high school students and their families, adults looking to advance their career or make a job change and counselors and advisers.

State Board staff partnered with Gear Up Idaho, the State Department of Education and Idaho Career and Technical Education to offer students a way to connect with and learn about higher education without having to leave home.

“Because of all the disruptions in the springtime, there were a lot of things this year’s seniors missed out on, like college visits and campus visits,” said Byron Yankey, the State Board’s college and career advising program manager.

The 11 participating institutions are: College of Eastern Idaho, College of Southern Idaho, College of Western Idaho, North Idaho College, Lewis-Clark State College, University of Idaho, Boise State University and Idaho State University, College of Idaho, Brigham Young University-Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University.

At the virtual college fair, students can expect to find videos, documents, a webinar on financial aide basics, virtual tours of the schools and tutorials on how to use Apply Idaho to apply to Idaho colleges and universities for free.

Students will be able to participate in live chats or streaming meetings to connect with college and university admissions staff or current student ambassadors.

Virtual college fair participants can click to join the auditorium, where there are on-demand videos and a welcome from Gov. Brad Little. When they click the exhibit hall they can virtually visit booths from each school where they can exchange contact information and learn more about deadlines and next steps.

“It’s really individualized how each of the institutions wants to interact with the students,” said Sara Scudder, the State Board’s career information senior program manager.

When virtual college fair participants are visiting a booth and come across a document or video they want to keep, they can click to add it to their online swag bag, which will allow them to print that material off, save it or email it.

“This is as close as we can get to replicating those experiences,” Yankey said.

The virtual college fair kicks off a big week for students looking to continue their education. On Thursday, the Apply Idaho online application program opens. Idaho students can Apply Idaho as a one-stop shop to apply to all of the state’s public colleges and universities, as well as NNU and College of Idaho.

Also on Thursday, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Idaho scholarships windows open.

Ready to give it a try?

There is a link to the virtual college fair at the State Board’s Next Steps website. The fair runs from 8 .m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday.

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