Not every college you’re interested in will be in close proximity to where you live. Many times, it’s impossible to visit these schools before applying to them. Rather than giving up all hope, there are a few ways to get to know a school without physically going there. Since the Internet is the world’s primary source of finding information, colleges and universities are making their presence on social media known. Every school has a website. There are websites dedicated to reviewing different colleges. This is how to school stalk.
Colleges have a plethora of information on their websites. This should be the first place you go to when trying to find out more about the school you’re looking into. Here, you will be able to find information about things from majors to financial aid to what activities the school has to offer to information about what their dining hall(s) serve. Learn about the different special programs and opportunities they have there. Also, on the front page of the school’s website will be recent news about new developments the school is working on or any awards they have recently won. These things are typically what the school is focusing on for the next few years to improve. For example, if there is news of a specific grant the school has been awarded that will give them money to renovate campus or build new buildings, expect a lot of construction over the next few years when you might possibly be there. Also, look into virtual tours colleges post on their websites.
Next, look up their social media accounts! A lot of schools have Twitter and even Tumblr accounts. Almost every college has a Facebook page by now. Look at their recent updates! Another way to see what a school is like is to look up posts related to them on websites like Tumblr. By seeing what the students have to say about the school, it’s easier to gain a better insight about how the student body feels. Of course, what is posted on social media is not always an accurate representation of what all students feel, so be careful. This is why it is difficult to go on websites that review schools because many times those who post about certain things have a very strong opinion about the subject at hand. Websites like hercampus.com have chapters at schools across the country that have articles about different topics related to their respective schools, as well as thoughts from the students who attend each school.
I cannot stress the importance of researching schools through websites like YouTube. Almost every school has a YouTube page and the videos the schools post are informational. Students also might post videos pertaining to what life is like at the college. Many people post tours of the school, which makes it easier to see what the school is like from a non-affiliated person’s perspective. Many organizations will also probably have videos online from past events or to publicly show their work, so make sure to take a look at it, especially if joining the organization is something you think you might be interested in!
I have said it before and I will say it again: a lot of the information on social media websites that are not written by accounts related to the school is not objective. Everyone has an opinion, and the only way that you can form yours without letting the thoughts of others influence you is by doing a lot of research. It is okay to spend hours looking at profiles of just one school on College Board, the college’s website, and social media sites. Use your resources and make an educated decision about applying to a school rather than just applying to it on a whim because of its reputation or because it’s an easy school. Love the schools you’re applying to. Or, at least like them a lot. Do your research.