Education Matters: Scoping colleges online |

Education Matters: Scoping colleges online

Becky Grappo

In my last article, “The Great American College Road Trip”, I wrote about what to look for on the college visit. However, I know that unless they have a magic carpet, most students can’t just fly off to see all the schools they might be interested in. So how can they research a college online? Here’s my “how to” guide! First of all, there’s objective information. Where can you find the statistics for the colleges that interest you? – College Navigator from the National Center for Education StatisticsFor more information, go here, then type in the name of the school you want to research and the state where it’s located. – University College and Accountability NetworkThis lists many private member colleges and uses great graphics to illustrate the information. Subjective information is also useful. Though based on opinions, not fact, it is still informative. Here are some of my favorite – This website has eight-minute videos of college campus – don’t forget to look for videos on the college that interests you. Then there are the college’s own websites. This will be a combination of both objective and subjective information. Go to the Admissions page and look for the virtual tour, or photo tour. Also check out the Academic links, then those for Student Life, and once you get going, you can go on and on.What should you be looking for on these virtual visits? Instead of just randomly clicking around, I like to see a more focused search. I often do this with my students and I love to hear them exclaim “Wow!” when they see how much a college really has to offer. I suggest that the student makes up a Campus Virtual Visit Worksheet and records the following information: Name of College: Website: Location: Size: Best known for:What programs or courses do they offer that interest you the most?Any particular observations about what the college has to offer? Impressions of campus from virtual tour:Percentage of students who live on campus all four years: Percentage of students who return after freshman year (freshman retention rate):Percentage of students who graduate in six years: Do you see any clubs, sports, or activities that interest you? Can you easily find the career center on the website? What does the website say about internships? What percentage of students study abroad and where do they go? Do you see any information about advising? Are students encouraged to double major, create their own majors, or do a dual major? Do you have any ideas about what you might like to do? Does the website give the average class size? How would you decribe the community at this college? What is the surrounding town like? How selective is this college/university? Average SAT/ACT:Average GPA:Percentage of students admitted: Interview required: yes/noCost – tuition, room and boardWhat kind of merit scholarships do they offer? (see financial aid page of website)Could you see yourself on this campus? How would you rate your impressions of this school? > Loved it! It’s going on the list! Why did you love it? > Liked it a lot. I think it will be on the list. > I don’t think it’s the school for me because …Are there any other features of this school that you want to be sure to remember? If you can keep a running record of schools you research, then it should help you to create a college list that might be just right for you! Rebecca (Becky) Grappo, M.Ed, is a Certified Educational Planner and the founder of RNG International Educational Consultants. She works with students in Colorado as well as throughout the world to help find the right boarding school or college for them, and assists with the application process from start to finish. You can visit her website at or come to her office in Dillon.

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