If you’re a parent or educator of a college-bound teen then you understand the importance of the college search and making sure your teen has found the right school for them. The first step in the process is encouraging your teen to examine their own interests, goals and plans for the future. But with more than 3,500 degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States, what’s the next step?
We reached out to 3 college experts and advisors and asked them how families with college-bound teens can be effective with their college search. Here are their best tips for researching colleges online.
- Find where students write honest reviews
- Don’t use only the school’s website for your college search
- Take a “virtual tour” of colleges
Sarah Lisovich, CIA Medical, @CIAMedicalInc
If the college has a YouTube channel, this is an even better way to see what the students are like. — Sarah Lisovich
Exploring a college’s website is a great place to start, as it should be a virtual representation of the college itself. As a former member of my college’s communications and marketing department, I know well just how much time goes into creating and reflecting a college’s values, aesthetic, and student body into its online presence. Another great place to look into is ratemyprofessors.com, where students are able to write reviews about their professors honestly and anonymously. This will give a better understanding for the way students and professors interact, and further insight into the voice of the student body. If the college has a YouTube channel, this is an even better way to see what the students are like, what they are most involved in, and some of the college’s major documented events.
Robert Schwartz, YourBestCollegeEssay.com, @RSessays
Online information is a great start but there is no substitute for the school visit. — Robert Schwartz
Don’t use only the school website for research. What you will find there is really only information they want you to have. Their site should be your first stop into discovering what that school has to offer. There are many other resources online. CollegeConfidential.com is really helpful. You’ll learn even more at unigo.com. There you’ll find testimonials from students who attend school there, their thoughts on academics, and student life. And while online information is a great start, remember, there is no substitute for the school visit.
Sarah Seitz, The Enrichery, @TheEnrichery
One of the toughest stages of the college search is when you’re trying to narrow down a long list of schools. — Sarah Seitz
One of the toughest stages of the college search is when you’re trying to narrow down a long list of schools. This becomes increasingly difficult when you’re looking at schools all over the country and don’t have the time or money to visit them all. Here’s where YouVisit.com comes in. You can take a “virtual tour” of over 1,000 colleges, and get a decent feel of the campus. While it doesn’t totally replace a physical visit, it is probably the closest you can get.