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An online admissions fair on a virtual campus

American Public University, a popular distance learning center which offers associate, bachelor and masters programs, made headlines yesterday when it held an all-day online admissions fair.

The live event, which organizers said was the first of its kind and attracted 267 prospective students, offered online chats with faculty and admissions officers and the opportunity to explore virtual classrooms to see how classes are conducted.

The idea of a virtual admissions fair sounds spot-on to me, especially for an online university.

I have noticed over the past year that a number of local colleges have cleaned up their Web sites, making them more informative, user friendly and interactive. At a time when budgets are tight and parents want to make the most informed decisions with an easy-to-navigate interface, it makes sense.

But when I read about the online event, I wondered if this could fly for schools that don’t offer much in the way of online classes.

Every year, high school juniors and seniors travel all over the country to visit schools. The trips are costly but important to the decision-making process.

The online fair might be a great idea for an online college, but nothing can replace actually walking onto a campus, meeting with professors face-to-face and experiencing campus life.