This week, our youngest child graduates from eighth grade, goes on to high school and has nothing to do with us again till she’s thirty. As a graduation gift, she asked for a guide to colleges and universities so she can begin planning her future. You know; the future that’s still four years away. She’s a planner, that one. Since we have done this dance before with an older child, and due to the work I’ve done with universities providing public relations, marketing and social media support, I’ve kept close tabs on what online tools and communities are available for those beginning the search and navigating college admissions.
A tool I like a lot and our daughter spent hours playing with yesterday, is the college search query from College Board. Quiz-style, the user selects parameters important to them, e.g. public, private or no preference; distance from home; academic programs and more. The more strict you are with parameters, the narrower the results (our daughter had to loosen up her demands to get a few more search results).
We’re obviously a few years away from it, but I’ve been delighted to watch schools progress in their use of social media for admissions information. I did a very thorough review of college admissions blogs for a client at one time; the practice of engaging online has been widely adopted since then, to the benefit of students, parents and the universities themselves. Check out the Top 50 College Administration and Admission Blogs to get a sample of what’s being done.
My only hope is that, as our daughter begins to really focus on a smaller handful of schools, those she’s most interested in will have easily accessible information, clean websites and strong managers of social communities, available to engage with us and provide the answers we seek. I’m certain if that’s not the case, my frustration will influence her choice of colleges.
No post on this topic would be complete without a mention of Notes from Peabody: The UVa Admission Blog created, maintained and updated with humor, style and consistently helpful information by my friend Dean J and her trusty sidekick Cav Dog. Notes from Peabody has existed since 2005 — long before most universities recognized that blogging was a valid way to communicate with prospective students. I applaud Dean J. for getting out there ahead of the pack and for keeping up with an excellent blog for longer than it takes a student to earn a degree.