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Learning about colleges without traveling to visit
I am interested in learning more about certain colleges, but do not have time to travel to visit the colleges.
Answer: You describe a situation I see all the time, as few families have the time to see all the schools they might be interested in, especially if they try to limit their visits to school vacations when college is still in session. For that reason, it is important that you explore other options that are readily available to you. I usually start my search using search engines on College Board or College Navigator, which will allow you to do a rudimentary search for colleges. Once you have narrowed your search, you want to ensure that you fit the profile of students who generally are accepted. You can usually go onto the school website and search for admitted student profile to understand the range of student scores and grades from the previous year’s class.
I advise you to go to each school’s admission page and click on the link where students can get additional information from the school. You will most likely be sent a view book, along with additional information you might have requested, such as financial aid and information about clubs, sports or majors you might be interested in. I also like to spend time on the web pages of the college, specifically targeting academics, as I think it is useful to understand the majors offered at the college, the range of classes in this major and the other opportunities that might be available within that major — such as internships, senior capstone projects, student research or study abroad options.
You can also watch videos of the campus and take a tour online, which is one way to stay dry and be sure that you will not be stranded, especially if you travel to the Midwest or the East Coast over the winter. These tours are usually offered on the admission website for each school, where you can also view Facebook clips made by the admission office.
I like to see if there are local admission reps in the area who are available to talk, or students and alumni living in your area who are available to meet with you. I find that students prefer to learn about colleges through a student perspective. Some of my favorite websites include Ungo.com, College Prowler.com and collegeconfidential.com, where you can get firsthand accounts from students on everything from academics to the quality of the food to their opinion of the social life on campus.
Joan Franklin is the owner of MI College Support, an independent college counseling practice. She can be reached at (206) 232-5626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.