College planning philosophies will differ from high school guidance counselors to independent educational consultants. However, the goal remains the same. It’s not about graduating high school. It’s not about being accepted to college. It’s about coaching students through the college planning process to find a college or university where they can graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years. This will result in a lifetime of opportunities including saved time and money (4 vs 6 year graduation), increased earning potential (2xs more than a high school diploma), and establishing a healthier lifestyle regardless of age, income, or demographics.
With that goal in mind, mastering Internet technology for college counseling is important. You should log every podcast, virtual tour, college search engine, scholarship search database, and more so you can guide your students with confidence. Here are some tips to become their digital filter.
Podcasts give you a way to listen to relevant career and college planning content on your time schedule. Listen to a few before recommending them to others. Don’t be afraid of social media, it doesn’t bite. As a college planner, take the time to teach students how to interact and behave with adults using various social media platforms. Videocasts and videos are great ways to learn more about a specific career or topic.
The career search is missing from so many plans and usually limited to what major a student is interested in studying. Help students use personality, learning style, and career assessments to understand who they are and what they like. Look for a college search engine that does not focus on the best marketing campaign, but one that shares the best matches for your student. Before taking campus tours, virtual tours will give students insight, spark excitement, and generate questions to ask on their actual tour.
Since paying for college is at the front of everyone’s mind,helping students find and use quality financial aid, scholarship, tutoring and test prep companies is important. Financial aid sites will include federal and state aid. While students shouldn’t pay for scholarship options, they may find more value in paying for the personal interaction for tutoring and test prep.
Read. Take notes. Read. This is great advice for a student entering college. It’s also great advice for every career and college consultant. Books share planning tips and great stories. Blogs share ongoing, relevant information based on every subject mentioned above. And don’t be afraid to share your own personal experiences either. Write a blog for your local audience.
Once you’ve become your student’s digital filter, you’ve reached your destination. Success!
Searching for the right college to attend is an exciting process! The goal is to find a college that is a good academic, social, emotional, and financial fit. Too often, our search begins with looking at the sticker price, not the discounted price. Doing so may eliminate good options. For example, some students could attend Harvard for free if their household income is below $65,000.
How can guidance counselors, college consultants, and parents conduct an effective college search using the Internet? Let’s start looking at some college search solutions for your student.
Some college search engines are available for a fee to the consumer like Naviance, Bridges (Xap), CollegePlannerPro, and others. Students can access these through a high school, state education site, or local independent consultant. Other service based companies may have a proprietary college planning software built specifically for their student client base. Fee-based search engines would be free from outside bias and offer general accountability resources for students.
Some college search engines are available for free to the consumer like Big Future, CollegeView, Princeton Review, and others. While free to use, some features may only be accessed by creating a profile. These free sites are generally marketing tools for colleges and college-data providers so they will have featured college sponsors and/or click-thru ads to generate revenue.
No matter what type of college search engine is used, students who visit the campus and discuss their options with a professional counselor or consultant will make better decisions about where to attend college.
The results of a college search matter! College search engines should allow the student to select multiple options for each search criteria. Limited searches may be leading students to view featured colleges (paid advertisers). While it’s perfectly okay for a college to market themselves, the featured ads may exclude colleges that are better academic or emotional fits. It’s more important for students to search with “or” and “and” rather than “only.” For example, a student may want to search for Southwest Region AND New York, urban OR suburban, physics AND dance, etc. versus only picking three states, one city size, and one major.
Here are some requirements for what I would believe is a good college search engine:
After your research, then you can have fun helping your students make informed, wise decisions. Success!
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.