by Brody Truce
Senior Staff Writer
Colleges around the country use Interest Fairs to woo prospective students to their doors. Faced with dwindling enrollments for five consecutive years, the Office of Admissions at Edgar State College in Plumosa, CA recently examined their recruitment strategies.
“We’ve been using the same Interest Fair format for a long time,” said Tracey Donner, Dean of Enrollment. “I’ve come to the conclusion that people who work in admissions have really bastardized the term ‘fair.’ Normal people hear the word ‘fair’ and expect cotton candy and Ferris wheels. Instead, they end up with a few brochures and a stack of FAFSA paperwork. This sort of disappointment is a bad way for us to start our relationship with prospective students.”
This week, Edgar State College wowed the admissions community with a new vision of a college interest fair.
“We hosted an actual fair,” explained Donner. “College is fun, and that fun should start with our office.”
During the fair, participants tossed coins into dishes for an opportunity to win meal plans and learned about the college’s history while playing a ring-toss game. The Office of Financial Aid sponsored a student/parent three-legged race. But the most popular attraction at this year’s event was the Pick Your Major Pony Ride booth, with participants waiting up to 45 minutes for their turn.
“We know that not everyone who comes to an interest fair likes the idea of going to college,” explained Donner. “But everyone loves ponies. And ponies don’t often have an opportunity to participate in higher education, so this model of marketing is truly a win for colleges and ponies alike.”
Dana Leonard, a senior at West Plumosa Senior High, was thrilled with her experience at the fair.
“I wasn’t even thinking about going to college. But after going on my pony ride, I think I want to be a doctor.”