In the past, our alumni volunteers have been able to join Penn State Admissions staff members at college fairs across the country, or even in our place. As a result of COVID-19, we are no longer permitting alumni volunteers to attend the limited number of college fairs we have received invitations to. This was not an easy choice for us, as we know some alumni volunteers have been covering the same college fairs for many years, but as a protective service to you and the students you would be meeting, this decision is for the best.
We know this may be difficult to accept. To put this in perspective, we want to explain that we would never send you to a college fair as a volunteer that we, as University staff, wouldn't attend. Due to budgetary constraints (out-of-state recruitment is seen as non-essential travel, and we have been restricted to a no-spend budget in the office), our travel will be among the first to be cut. High schools are not encouraging outside visitors, especially from out-of-state, and the University has explained that we should be doing everything in our power to prevent the spread of disease to students and families, as well as from students and families to University affiliates.
We are continuing to receive some invitations to college fairs, but many have underlined that they are planning these with very little hope of actually holding them. We are receiving some virtual fair invitations as well, but as we are not traveling, if a Territory Manager is unable to make the fair, we pass it along to another staff member to cover on our behalf.
Until there is, at the very least, a vaccine for COVID-19, we cannot support volunteers participating in college fairs. If and when we decide it is safe to reopen college fairs for alumni volunteers, we will do so on a case-by-case basis.
Recruitment has dramatically changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over time, high schools and counselors have been less willing to permit outside guests into the high school setting, with respect to employees' and students' safety being a top concern. While we continue to receive college fair invitations, we have dramatically changed the way we recruit, not only for alumni, but also for University staff. At this point in time, we will be considering incorporating some alumni involvement back into the college fair process. However, alumni involvement in the future will likely mirror alumni involvement during the pandemic. Each Territory Manager has the liberty to encourage or discourage alumni fair involvement at their discretion, and fairs, should they be open for alumni involvement, will be assigned on a case-by-case basis, rather than on a volunteer basis.