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The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) is a distinguished academic honor society that has been supporting young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. NSHSS’s mission is to recognize academic excellence and honor the highest achieving high school students, providing them with the resources and network to excel in college, career, and the community.
Like many others, NSHSS was also unable to host a physical gathering of their community due to the global restrictions related to COVID-19. This academic society was, however, well aware of all the hopeful futures that benefited from the resources offered during their scheduled events every year.
Therefore, dedicated towards their mission, NSHSS was not going to turn away from their promise toward their members. The society decided to partner with a platform that not only served their needs to connect members with college representatives and other educational bodies, but was also appealing to their young audiences to keep them engaged and excited.
The team at the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) joined forces with vFairs, with the primary objective of delivering an experience that involved everything a high school graduate needed for their next step into the future.
On August 8, 2020, NSHSS opened the gates to their Virtual Member Event called Scholar’s Summer Virtual Conference, where members could attend workshops, chat with college recruiters, learn about internships, and network with other members.
To prevent students from diminishing their drive to attend the college of their dreams or land their ideal internship, the virtual event was constituted of three main opportunities for them:
(i) On Demand workshops – Six educational workshops were made available to members to stream at any time of their convenience.
(ii) Live college & career expo – Students could meet and interact with representatives from NSHSS university, corporate, government, and educational partners across the country.
(iii) Live networking – Students could network with NSHSS members live in the designed virtual networking lounge.
Moving forward, this case study will shed light upon the eye-opening features and tools that drove NSHSS towards an incredibly successful virtual event. So, let’s be seated.
The organizer expressed their first and foremost requirement to set up an audience-friendly event. This meant that the aesthetics of the event had to be impressive enough to excite high school students, who are already familiar with digital environments at this age and time. The bar to create extraordinary designs was thus higher at the Scholar’s Summer virtual conference, in order to meet the demands of its young audience.
vFairs, known for their aesthetics and near-to-life experience, created a lobby that consisted of animated avatars and a rich 3D environment. This allowed all participating bodies to feel as though they were at a real event and surrounded by real people, increasing their engagement at the event.
Various educational sessions for students were lined up at the virtual event, just as though they were to be at the physical version. Students were able to navigate through the lobby to step into a Virtual Auditorium, where they could access presentations by different speakers.
Due to the virtual nature of the event, it was possible for students to access relevant sessions at the time of their convenience, making retention levels optimum.
You might be wondering how this event was fulfilling its primary purpose. How are people making connections without meeting with each other?
Well, here’s what happened. vFairs provided NSHSS with a platform to connect participants and student members — not just within a certain country, but across the globe.
In order to create an engaging environment that nurtured valuable and relevant conversations, participating bodies such as representatives from various colleges, voluntary funding organizations, and so on had displayed their virtual booths in the event’s Exhibit Hall. This allowed the following:
(i) Content sharing – Students were provided with all the information they needed in the form of documents, videos, presentations, and brochures at each virtual booth.
(iii) Meeting and greeting – Students were able to chat with booth reps, either one-on-one or in group chat rooms, in order to make connections. Chats could further take place in the form of text, audio, or video, depending on the requirements of the two parties.
(iii) Branding – Not just benefiting student members, but also allowing exhibitors to brand their booths with banners and material that can showcase them as a global organization.
In addition to the networking opportunities available within the Exhibit Hall, a “networking lounge” was also set up for students and participants to chat with ambassadors as well as the student council, further maximizing the engagement at the event.
Contrary to a physical event, students could access all kinds of helpful resources — PDFs, videos, documents, slide decks, and so on in — one place at the event. They could further add the ones that interested them the most in something known as a “swag bag.” This allowed them to access the important materials later, and/or email them, either to themselves or to peers/parents.
The Scholar’s Summer virtual conference turned out to be a real-life conference experience for those participating and attending. The event was structured in a way to allow attendees to:
According to Courtney Sample, Senior Manager of Events at NSHSS, the Scholar’s Summer virtual conference was the largest event that NSHSS had ever hosted — physical or virtual. She further stated that this event got them a lot of positive feedback from attendees as well as exhibitors, as they were all really pleased by it.
The host wanted to showcase appealing designs right from the beginning. They wanted to create an environment that wasn’t just a webpage, but allowed individuals to walk into the lobby and be able to navigate around the event from there. This therefore worked really well, especially within the age group that was attending the event from all over.
Last, but not the least, one of the reasons that compelled NSHSS to host more virtual events in the future was that it was cheaper than a physical event. The cost of staffing, travel and accommodation, venues, and simply collecting members from across the world was not a matter of concern any longer. This made the setup perfect for them, and the experience a success among those who were a part of it.
You might also be interested in: The Ultimate Guide to a Virtual Conference
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