Choosing a college is one of the biggest decisions of your life. Here are some tips to help you get to know colleges you’re interested in so you can weigh the pro and cons and pick a place where you’ll be happy:
1. Take a virtual tour.
In addition to basic information (e.g., campus size, number of students), college websites offer virtual campus tours. Get a closer look at different parts of the campus using interactive maps and other tools.
2. Explore Digital Profiles.
A college's website, Facebook page, and Instagram feed can tell you about campus living. Look for information on things you might want to know more about such as campus clubs and organizations, cultural events, student government, and sports .
3. Browse the Course Catalog.
Basic course information is often available in an online catalog. You can read short descriptions of all the current classes, learn about frequently offered elective courses, and find out the requirements for each major.
4. Visit the Webpage of an Academic Department.
If you want to learn about colleges, check out their posted syllabi to learn about what subjects explore and estimate a course’s workload. Read about academic organizations, research opportunities, and internships. You connect with an academic advisor to learn more about your future major.
5. Investigate Support Services.
On a college's website, you can learn about the services the college provides to help its students succeed. Academic support can include tutoring, writing assistance, and study-skills courses. Other support includes help with the financial aid process, counseling, and career-planning services.
6. Look Into Housing Options.
Find out what sorts of housing options are available for first-year students as well as sophomores, juniors, and seniors. You may be able to see images of dorm rooms, group houses, and on-campus apartments.
7. Visit the Library.
Curious about how large a college's book collection is? Browse the online library catalog to find out which databases the college uses and learn how it informs new students about its services. Take a virtual spin around the library to see how comfortable it is. You may be spending a lot of time there.
8. Explore Dining Options.
College campuses offer all sorts of dining choices, such as restaurants, cafés, and dining halls. Many college websites feature menus so that you can see what kinds of food a college serves.
9. Read the Newspaper.
A college's newspaper can reveal campus issues and introduce you to a college's activities. What types of stories do current students report on? What local events get coverage? College papers can also give you a feel for the level of student thinking and writing on campus.
10. Contact Alumni and Current Students.
If you want to talk to someone who really knows a college, use online resources to look up the contact information for alumni and current students. Send emails requesting an interview or feedback. Some colleges have live chat rooms in which prospective students can mingle with current students.
When you want to learn about a specific college, use College Search to look it up and follow the link to its website. You can often find links to a college's official Facebook page and Twitter feed on its homepage. If you can't find the information you're looking for, use the site map to point you in the right direction.