Deciding which college or university to attend is one of the most important decisions a prospective student can make when preparing for their future education. To simplify this process, we’ve identified the six most important features to look for on a college website. When researching prospective schools, these elements of the college website will help you to make the best decision about your future.
1. The ‘About Us’ Section
The ‘About Us’ section of a university or college website will give you insight into how the school identifies itself. You’ll learn more about academic programs the college offers, the size and makeup of the student body, and more about campus life.
In choosing a college or university, it is important to keep your academic goals in mind. You will be investing a lot of time and resources into your college education, so you want to make sure you choose the right school that will help you achieve those goals. The ‘About Us’ section of the college website will provide details of academic programs, faculty, and resources the school offers.
The college website provides important information about the school’s admissions requirements and process. Search the website for information about the school’s acceptance rate to gauge how competitive admission is. Additionally, research the average GPA and entrance test scores of admitted students to see how you measure against the competition. Pay attention to all admission deadlines, including dates for early decision or early action and submit your admission application on time for best consideration.
- As you are looking at the admissions section, ask yourself the following questions:
- What does the school boast about on their website?
- What are their graduation and retention rates?
- Does the school pride themselves in assisting graduates with job placement?
The information you will gather after asking these questions will help you make an informed decision.
In choosing a college, accreditation is one of the most important factors in ensuring the academic integrity and value of your degree. It is important to understand the higher education accreditation process and what it means for you. Accreditation is the certification process that colleges undergo to ensure they meet standards of academic quality. To learn more about college accreditation, be sure to read our “What is Accreditation?” article.
When visiting a college website, look for the school’s accreditation status. Make sure your prospective college is regionally accredited by one of the following regional accrediting agencies for higher education institutions:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commision on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE)
- The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commision on Colleges (SACS)
- The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission
Affordability is an important factor to consider when choosing a college. It is important to search the college website for annual tuition rates and fees. These costs can vary significantly depending on the type of school and are important in making your decision. The website will also give information about on-campus housing options, available meal plans, and other living expenses.
Importantly, the college website will also provide information about scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options. For details of available aid, look for the webpage for the college’s financial aid office.
5. Student Life/Culture
When selecting a college or university, check out the campus life/culture section of the college website. This is where you will determine if the institution feels like the right fit for you.
This section of the college website offers an important glimpse into the culture of the campus community. When looking at this information, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:
- What sets the school apart?
- Does the school have a reputation for academic rigor?
- What do students do for recreation?
- What kinds of student-run organizations and extracurricular activities are available?
- Does the school have a well-known athletic program?
- What about Greek Life?
These factors are important to consider when searching for the right college. The college website provides an overall portrait of student life.
Keep in mind that you will be spending a lot of time at your school. You need to be happy with the location of the college or university and what surrounds the campus. Many institutions boast about the town where they’re located and attractions around the region on the college website. As you are going to spend the next two to four years living in the town where your college is located, make sure that you will be satisfied with the school’s location.
Look for each of these six sections in a college website to help you know what to expect from your prospective school. With these topics in mind, you’ll not only make sure you find the best fit for you, but you’ll also ensure that your educational investment is well worth your time and effort.