The college search is a big undertaking, and you’ll need some valuable resources to help you along the way. A college’s website is a great place to start when you begin to gather information on colleges that interest you. Here are a few tips on how to find the information you need to know as a prospective student.
1. Analyze the home page
While this first tip may seem obvious, a website’s home page provides students with a first look at what a college has to offer, what it’s been recognized for, and how the school chooses to brand themselves. This allows viewers to get a feel for the college or university they’re considering. Some examples of what you may see on the home page include:
- Upcoming campus events
- News about programs or individuals at the university
- Options to access the school’s admission application and/or schedule a visit
As you continue to explore the website and visit different pages, pay attention to sidebars on each page that may contain information you don’t want to miss.
2. Find out how to get in
After you’ve gotten an overview of the college, look at the top bar and find the tab that says “Admission.” This tab is one of the most important resources on a college’s website. It holds what you need to know about getting into that particular college, such as stats of the previous entering class, required test scores and GPAs, and deadlines for admission. This tab should also give instructions on how to apply, whether there’s an application fee, and what additional documents are required.
You can also learn about financial information. The cost of attendance section often lists an estimated total a student may be expected to pay for an academic year. However, be aware that this “sticker price” amount can vary drastically from student to student and from school to school. Individual courses may also have additional fees that can add to tuition based on the program of study. The financial aid section should include detailed instructions on how to apply for federal assistance through the FAFSA as well as how to earn institutional scholarships, plus what the deadlines are. Since paying for college is an area that can bring up questions, contact information for the financial aid department should be listed in these sections—and you should take advantage of it.
Related: 3 Steps to Help You Get Into Your Dream University
3. Learn about academic opportunities
The next important step is to find out what programs and majors the school offers and see if your desired field of study is listed. Under a specific major, schools will often link the degree curriculum. This lists the specific course names, descriptions of the courses, and the grades needed for satisfactory completion. You can also find admission requirements for a particular major, as they may differ based on what program(s) you’re interested in. If you’re thinking about pursuing graduate school after undergrad, you can even read more about the different master’s and doctoral degrees now to find out if you could complete your education at one school and/or in a shorter time frame.
Under this tab, there should be other featured opportunities such as research experience. Research is often conducted in STEM departments, and getting involved in research is ideal for those pursuing medical, engineering, and other related careers, as it can give insight on laboratory procedures and serve as an outstanding component of a résumé when applying for grad schools or future jobs. However, research opportunities are typically open to any student who’s interested, no matter what your major is.
Study abroad opportunities
Another opportunity to research is study abroad, which provides students with the chance to take their learning to a new level. In these programs, students can travel across the world and take courses while exploring new countries and cultures. Location options include countries from all over the world where diversity is prominent and cultures vary. If interested, students can find information on what programs are available, upcoming trips, study abroad costs and scholarships, and more.
4. Read up on extracurriculars
After perusing important pages about admission, financial aid, and academics, go ahead and look into the fun stuff that you may want to do during your time as an undergrad. This includes the athletics page, which details what sports are offered, news about upcoming games, and athletic distinctions and honors. If you’re interested, you can even locate application forms for prospective recruiting. A college’s website will also likely include a section where students can explore campus clubs and organizations. This allows you to connect specific organizations with your intended plan of study and see if the campus is rich in student involvement. There may be even more exciting opportunities specific to a school, so really dig around the website to find the most unique opportunities.
Related: The Best College Extracurriculars to Strengthen Your Résumé
A school’s website is an essential tool to use when you want to learn more about a college or university. With your college list in hand, be sure to visit each school’s website to gather information about the different areas that are essential to your college search. Write down the most important information so you can compare what each school offers to help narrow down your list. Have fun exploring!
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