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!
Parents, once you and your college-bound student have agreed upon a starting list of colleges, it will be time plan a virtual college road trip without packing the potato chips. Before you spend the time and money of traveling, taking virtual tours are a great way to see the campus together and prepare for a fun experience.
Think about it another way. When you know what you are looking for in a new house in a new city several hours away, you won’t just drive down random streets looking for houses to buy. You’ll spend time reviewing the listings online to see floorplans, backyards, neighborhoods, and comments about the local area. This is a virtual tour in real estate. Let’s do the same for college.
A virtual campus tour allows prospective students to visit many colleges from home. Some may be photos, 360 panoramic views, short videos, or virtually-guided tours. This is one of the best ways for your student to “picture themselves” on campus. In some virtual tours, you’ll be able to interact with current students, alumni, or professors.
YouVisit and CampusTours offer quality, self-guided, 360 degree panoramic views of various spots on campus with a short description. These sites allow you to see the campus. Colleges without a virtual tour on the CampusTours site are redirected to a map on the college website.
eCampusTours, CollegeClickTV, and YOUniversityTV include interviews from students, alumni, and faculty to give you a first-hand account of their college experience. These sites allow you to hear the campus. eCampusTours has a library of 1300 colleges along with a general info page with information about the college, admissions, student body, programs, other, and cost. Just know that some videos may not play. CollegeClickTV focuses on short 1-2 minute videos of students, professors, or local merchants sharing their story. YOUniversityTV allows users to favorite or share the college tour. One or two female hosts will narrate your tour and conduct interviews. Admissions officers shared who they were looking for as a potential candidate. While many colleges produce virtual tours, some may also offer tours of the dining halls and dorm rooms like the University of Oklahoma.
If you don’t have time to look at multiple sites, I would recommend CampusTours as my go-to site for virtual campus tours and YOUniversityTV for personal insights. Just be aware that these “free” sites may have featured colleges scrolling on top along with paid ads on the side. YOUniversityTV has you watch a commercial for another college before watching your selected college.
Once you’ve completed your virtual college road trip of your preferred colleges, you can plan your actual road trip and ask well-informed, thought-out questions. Success!
Now you can grab those potato chips!
By taking the time to read this blog, you are using technology to plan for college. If you are a novice in the search process, welcome! If you are helping your 189th student complete their common application, congratulations! You are taking part in the digital college admissions process.
The role of technology in college admissions is growing each year. From virtual meet-and-greets to video applications. Your goal is to learn how to use technology to help your students.
Today, let’s focus on blogs. During your planning period next Thursday, you can start reading the 30,400,000 college admissions blogs available on your preferred search engine! Or you can search for “college admissions blogs” to narrow your results down to 2,610. Wait, did you notice the difference? Look closely one more time. That’s right, quotation marks could save you thousands of hours.
Searching for the right information quickly is a part of our technological world. We cannot afford to waste time reading and applying dated information from unqualified sources.
When you are searching for local, regional, and national blogs that offer quality, truthful information about career and college planning, pay attention to the details. Here are a few things to consider:
Now that you’ve read about how to search for quality sources, you can successfully find and read college admissions blogs. Although I focused on college admissions blogs, you can apply this same process to college scholarship websites, career assessments, social media outlets, college planning websites, and more.
Your success will be contagious! Eric Stoller wrote a blog titled Digital Leadership for Inside Higher Ed. His challenge centered on having a willingness to learn. We are successful as educators if we are learning how to learn and sharing that knowledge with others. As you embrace technology, your confidence will be felt by your students.
Eric shared that “our ability to learn and experiment is often connected to our internal sense of bravery.” Being brave means you are facing your fear of technology. You may make few mistakes if you are just getting started, but you’ll eventually become a “digital leader” for your students.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.