How to Get the Real Scoop on Colleges
Brochures and websites can tell you only so much about a college—and usually they tell you only the best things about it. So how can you wade through all the marketing speak and get the inside scoop on what a college is really like? We’ve got tips for you to get the real story.
Most colleges are now on Twitter. Twitter (and other social media sites) usually have more spontaneous information posted, along with some of the typical “scripted” info. By following a college’s Twitter feed you can get a feel for how active students are, what goes on campus throughout the year and more.
When looking for feeds to follow, be sure to check for student engagement and other department’s feeds, in addition to the university’s main feed. Here are a few feeds to check out: @UT_Dallas, @EmbryRiddle, @Sweetbriaredu, @Pepperdine, @EvergreenStCol, @RutgersU and @UofSC.
Whether it’s a student blog on an official college website, or a student’s blog you stumble upon elsewhere, blogs can tell you a lot about a school and its students. If a school has blogs for certain majors or experiences (like study abroad or internships), it can show you the type of experiences you could have and what student life is like.
On Elmhurst College’s (IL) website, for example, their study abroad program shares blog posts written by students about their international study experiences. On the College of Holy Cross’s (MA) blog site, numerous students, alumni and faculty write blogs to share their experiences.
When you visit a college campus, students usually give the tours of campus. This provides a great opportunity for you to ask them what the experience is really like: How much do they have to study? What is there to do on weekends? How helpful is the Career Services Office in helping you land an internship? Is the food at the dining center really good?
Free online classes or lectures:
Many colleges around the country have posted videos and podcasts of lectures and classes on iTunes University for free. In addition, companies like Udacity, edX and Coursera offer something called massive open online courses (MOOCs) that allow you to take a college course for free. These provide great opportunities for getting a sneak peek at what a class at a university is really like.