It’s time to research colleges to find out what you want from a school, but beginning the process can be overwhelming. College websites have endless information, and their stats and testimonials begin to run together. Below are specific categories and questions to follow for navigating college websites so that you can get the most out of their information!
Academics: Is there a certain major or path of study important to you when applying to schools? Visit the Academics tab of school websites to look into the majors, minors, and other academic programs they offer. If you’re curious about which classes a major or minor entails, sometimes schools will give you examples of classes within that field of study.
Location: Take a Virtual Tour. Most schools are newly offering virtual tours, which are a great way to see school campuses (even if you’re just checking out the quad or housing facilities!). After doing the virtual tour, see if the website has any information on the city/town it’s located in. If not, look up the location and read about it on its official website. Do you prefer a mountainous area or a coastal scene? College town or big city? Read about the different activities you can do in whichever location in your free time.
Community-feel: Read about annual campus events, programs, and general campus feel. Does the student body rally around a sports team? Are they smaller and maintain a close-knit community throughout campus? Are they scattered throughout a big city?
Student-engagement: Try to find a list of programs and student clubs. Do any stand out to you? Are there service opportunities you would like to participate in? Do they have religious groups you can join? Does the school value diversity and offer supportive resources or group programs for BIPOC and LGBTQ communities? Do they have a Greek System? Are there intramural or club sports teams?
Housing: Find their housing tab to learn about the different housing options they offer and require. Is there on-campus housing? Are there special perks to housing for different years? Do they offer themed-housing?
Dining: Find explanations of different dining options across campus. Are there dining halls? If you have dietary restrictions, do you have access to those needs on campus? Is there a food scene downtown?
Basic Statistics: Quick facts about the school are usually easy to find. Pay attention to class size (1,600 vs. 16,000), student-teacher ratio, etc. These will help you understand the size of the school in relation to academic opportunities.
Arts: Do they offer art programs that fit your specialty? Do they have professors you can take music classes and practice with? Are there nice studio spaces?
Athletics: Which division of the NCAA are they a part of? Are you a fan of attending larger sports gatherings of accomplished teams?
Financial Aid: Do they offer merit-based scholarships, grants, loans, or Questbridge? Is their application need-aware or need-blind? Take note of financial aid deadlines.
Safety/Security/Health/Wellness: Do they provide transportation for getting around campus and general location? What are student health services like? Do they have counseling services and other support groups?
Admissions: Do they value demonstrated interest? Do they require test scores? Do they require an interview? Are they Common App or school specific? Take note of their ED, EA, and RD due dates.
Additional: Does anything unique stand out about the school? eg. J-Term/Spring Term/Block Plan Schedule, Honor Code, specific fields of study, strong alumni networks, or special programs?
Don’t be afraid to take notes on schools!