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How to Throughly Learn About a College using its Website

Often students simply look at one or two pages of a college's website to learn about a college of interest. While doing so is a good start, to determine what sets a college apart from all others is buried deeper within the website. Jessica Velasco explains how to better use college websites to learn if it is a fit for you or not. Here is her advice:

Choosing the colleges you will send your application to can be a difficult decision. When choosing a college you want to make sure it has everything you need and want in a college. College viewbooks have a lot of general information, but digging deeper into the website can answer a lot of your questions. Make sure to check out these ten pages as you are researching the colleges you are considering.AdmissionThe admission page should be the first stop for prospective students. Many admission pages will make it easy to find all of the general information prospective students are looking for, such as majors, quick facts, and admissions requirements. The admission page will also be the place students can sign up to get more information about the college.Virtual TourNot all colleges offer virtual tours on their websites, but many do. Virtual tours are a great way to see a college without traveling to the physical location. In addition to seeing the campus, many virtual tours introduce the viewers to campus personalities, such as professors and current students. The virtual tour can also show prospective students what is important to the college. If something is shown or highlighted in the virtual tour, it is important to the institution. Students may also want to take note of the things not mentioned in the video and ask why it is not shown.Financial AidLearn about the financial aid possibilities at the college. Do they have scholarships that you could receive if you attend the institution? Do they have other financial aid requirements besides the FAFSA? Are scholarships renewable, and if they are, do you think you would be able to meet the requirements to renew the scholarships? Also, if you have any private scholarships, learn about how the college views private scholarships. Some college may reduce your institutional aid (free money) if you bring in an outside scholarship while other colleges will reduce loans.Net Price CalculatorThe Net Price Calculator (NPC) can give you a really good idea about the financial aid you might receive if you attend the college. Unfortunately there is a misconception about the FAFSA and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Many families believe if they pay the EFC, financial aid will cover the rest. While that may be true at some colleges, it is not true for all colleges. Therefore, filling out the NPC can help you understand how much financial aid you may receive if you attend the college.Academic DepartmentRead about the professors in the academic major you are considering. Look at the list of class requirements if you want to graduate with that major. Some academic departments may also share graduate outcomes, such as internship and job placements, as well as graduate school attendance.Student LifeCollege is also about the experience you have outside the classroom. The student life pages can introduce you to all of the opportunities outside of the classroom, such as student organizations, activities, and events.Student NewspaperMost everything on a college website is marketing and geared towards attracting prospective students to the institution. However, student newspapers are real and will give prospective students the opportunity to learn what matters to students on campus. Student newspapers may also highlight shortcomings of an institution that the public would never know if only visiting a college website.Career CenterOne of the main reasons students attend college is because they want to find a career and job after graduation. The Career Center page will give students a glimpse into the services that are available to help students and graduates with the job search. In addition, many career centers pages provide facts and figures on graduates of the institution. While most colleges cannot guarantee a job, statistics and job placement information is a good indicator of a student’s chances after graduation.Campus SafetyLearn about any crime that may be happening on campus. Crime statistics must be made available to anyone who wants to see them. Is there anything concerning? Is the college doing anything to address your concerns?Study AbroadStudying in a different country is very appealing to many students. However, study abroad can be very different at the colleges you are considering. Some colleges may highly encourage or required students to study abroad. If this is the case, you may be able to use your financial aid to pay for study abroad. However, there are other colleges that will not allow you to use your financial aid and this is especially true if study abroad is not required for you to graduate. In addition, some colleges may not accept the classes you take when you study abroad and then you may be behind in your studies. Learn how study abroad is viewed at the colleges you are considering.

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