The acceptance letters are streaming in, and many high school seniors
are faced with a big decision -- what college to attend. Whether they're
counting the hours until graduation or just getting ready to take the SAT,
we know of a few sites that will help freshmen-to-be do their homework.
There are plenty of guides ready to take you on a virtual tour of campus. The College
Board's Planning for College is an all-around awesome
site. You probably recognize the Board as the sponsor of the SAT®,
PSAT® and AP® exams. Their site acts as a gateway to information
on selecting a college, applying to it, visiting it and finding the funding
to attend it. They also offer great test taking tips, including an "SAT
question of the day." (And since they know the answers...). At CollegeView
, you can browse through basic information and statistics on many schools.
Colleges and universities charge application fees, so it pays to narrow
your list. You probably have the glossy brochures. To get some hard
numbers, go to U.S. News and World Report's annual College Rankings. You'll learn which schools came out on top in your
state or region. Pay close attention to how schools are ranked, as some
criteria may not be important to you. If you know what fields of study you are
interested in, Petersons.com does
a good job of describing the strengths of programs at different universities,
and includes contact information for each.
Once you've narrowed it down or have acceptance letters
in hand, you may want to visit schools.
Yes, we're talking about leaving your computer and actually visiting the
place. But before you do, comb through the school's web site. You'll probably
find it on the list of American
Universities or U.S.
Universities by State. If not, put one of the search engines to the
test or try an intuitive guess like www.nameofuniversity.edu. You can also try CampusTours, which offers an online index of college and university virtual campus tours. To get a sense
for the student culture, check out the school's student newspaper.
Have your heart set on a school, but can't afford it? Welcome to financial
aid. The Financial Aid Information
Page is a great gateway to loan and scholarship information, but the
text is so small that you'll need a magnifying glass. Squint. It's worth
it. Another great resource for financial aid information
is Fastweb. You provide the site with
personal information, then receive a mailbox with applicable school, scholarship
and loan information. Students applying for financial aid will need to fill out the FAFSA, the Free Application
for Federal Student Aid. At the FAFSA site, you'll find downloadable versions
and detailed instructions on filling out the form. The Student Guide provides more information on grants, loans and work study from the U.S. Department of Education.
Your demographics, interests and talents could also net you a scholarship. The
College Board's Online Scholarship Search
allows you to conduct a search of more than more than 3,400 national, state,
public and private sources. If you play a high school sport, check out Scout USA.
For a one-time fee, AllSport Recruiting Coordinators will keep you on
the radar of your collegiate coaches of choice for your entire high school or JC career.
For those taking, or retaking standardized tests, there are a number
of test preparation sites available. As you probably know, this is a big
moneymaking business in America. However, some free courses are available
at TestPrep.com. If you have the
luxury of spending some cash on test prep, take a look at Kaplan and The Princeton
Review. Both offer a fair amount of free information, but ultimately want to sell you
their books, software and classes. For SAT
and ACT information, you can always go straight
to the source.