Click Deeper Into College Websites

Don’t all the smiling students and lush campuses splashed across college websites look the same? In truth, you’ve got to click deep into a site to discover distinguishing features. Think of the website more as a way to interact with a school than to size it up the way you once would with a shiny catalogue.

First, move your mouse to Undergraduate Admissions. You’ll find a ‘Contact’ link that leads to a list of regional admissions representatives. Short emails that show an authentic interest in the college can register your “demonstrated interest” to colleges bombarded with applications. At many colleges, these local reps are young alums eager to engage with prospective students. Likewise, a candidate can engage directly with a college through a website’s social media links like Facebook and Twitter. And Instagram and YouTube links provide visuals to enrich the text. More and more schools are providing panoramic Virtual Tours as well.

Next, dig into the academic program. You can find the recommended high school curriculum, and discover whether the college has a core curriculum and freshman program. Curricular data can inform supplemental essays such as, “What do you intend to study?” and “Why are you applying here?”

Be wary of self-reported average SAT/ACT scores and Grade Point Averages. Crosscheck this data with objective sources like The Fiske Guide or The College Board’s College Handbook. Similarly, be skeptical of self-reported rankings.

Bottom line: don’t allow a website to simply replace a static viewbook with its autumnal campus landscapes and generic marketing data. Instead, take advantage of the interactivity of the website and engage with the members of the campus community. You’ll find this “connection” will be more natural for your child than for you.

So here’s to many fruitful visits to “.edu” sites.

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