Transfer Day 2020 – Moving a face-to-face event to a virtual platform in three monthsby Jan Janes on Dec 10, 2020
The annual Transfer Day at Gavilan College has been held in early November each year. The timing is supports students’ efforts researching four year schools before preparing and submitting multiple college transfer applications due at the end of the month.
Over the years, Transfer Day participation from four-year college and university representatives at Gavilan increased by 50%. Joining them from late morning to early afternoon, more than 350 Gavilan students streamed through the student center to grab lunch, visit the tables and ask questions, carrying away swag and information.
COVID-19 created the challenge of how to connect students planning to transfer with college recruiters without the benefit of a face-to-face event.
Beginning last summer, Jacquelyn Richburg, director of the Career Transfer Center convened the Transfer Day Committee to generate ideas. New participants Media Services and IT joined regular participants from Public Information Office, AEC, Counseling, EOPS and the Welcome Center. Richburg serves on the Transfer Director Consortium for Northern California, a group that meets biweekly to plan and discuss best practices. The focus for 2020: how to restructure the event.
“We were able to gather input from lots of colleges who shared their information,” said Richburg. The Chancellor’s Office for California Community Colleges determines the event dates. Beginning in September, the in-person event traveled like a caravan. Recruiters begin at colleges further north and move their way south. Gavilan’s assigned date of October 29 offered the college time to receive feedback from the colleges with earlier dates.
“Santa Rosa College was first,” said Richburg. “They came back and shared what worked, and what didn’t.” Fresno City College held their event in late September and called their event Transfer Day 365. Live communication with recruiters was available the day of the event. The web information was designed to remain available year round.
Working with college webmaster Karl Sachtleben, the Gavilan Transfer Committee created a virtual cafeteria of features. Students could register online, navigate a list of instructions, expand drop downs explaining all the features, and link to live engagement with the recruiters.
On the Transfer Day website, Gavilan students could register for the event.
Students could chat with a Gavilan College counselor or Peer Mentor if they needed assistance.
Students could also engage with the college recruiters through the Transfer
Day website. Each recruiter's college managed their own web link.
The same accordion drop-down format was available for students to arrange one-on-one meetings with recruiters later in the day.
More than 100 students registered for the event. The Welcome Center provided information, EOPS sent emails to students through iLearn, and Public Information created a regular stream of social media messaging.
The Transfer Committee is still gathering student feedback to improve the design of the virtual event, and to share their findings with other groups on campus who need to apply virtual tools.
Some benefits of a virtual event have already been noted. Colleges with limited travel budgets were able to participate. And five colleges and universities - UCLA, CSU Maritime Academy, Connie L. Lurie College of Education/SJSU, Laguna College of Art & Design and Pepperdine Gradiadio Business School - participated in Gavilan's Transfer Day for the first time in 2020.Jasmine Banuelos offered her view from dual vantage points: team member and student. “This was my first virtual transfer fair,” she said. “I really enjoyed being part of the team, assisting students who are hearing-impaired to meet the interpreter. Since I am transferring, I had the opportunity to visit universities. I enjoyed interacting with the schools and they answered all my questions.”