Wednesday, September 20, 2006

College hunting -- internet style

On Monday, we explored MIT's attempts to de-stress-ify the college application and admissions process. But what if your child doesn't know where he or she wants to apply in the first place? How can you find out what options are out there?

For JIS students interested in pursuing higher education in the United States, there are web-based services, including one called "Counselor-O-Matic," that can help students explore options and discover colleges and universities they may never have considered.

According to the New York Times, "Counselor-O-Matic and similar sites are free to students because they are operated by companies that make money from advertising, from fees paid by colleges and from selling the names of prospective students to colleges." But the payoff may be worth exchanging your data. After entering data (GPA, test scores, interests, geographical limitations), the website cranks out a list of potential schools. According to the Times:
With more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, search engines can help narrow the field by provoking students to think about what factors matter to them. This is particularly useful for students seeking admission to the most selective institutions, because they may apply to a dozen or more.
However, as with any newfangled gadget, you should exercise caution. The Times points out that, "critics say students must realize that search engines are not guidance counselors. They reduce the search to a numbers game and cannot factor in the culture of a campus, the personality of a student, or the more elusive concept of a fit."

But it never hurts to look....

FYI....Counselor-O-Matic requires students to enter a high school name, but "Jakarta International School" and JIS aren't recognized. As a trial, I entered the high school where I taught, New Trier, a highly competitive college prep school of 4,000 students. Does anyone know of another US high school that would be a good approximation of JIS? Also, if anyone has a report on how the whole process works out, please comment and share your experience!

Links to other internet search engines for colleges:

The College Board's Match Maker
Thompson Peterson's College Search
US News and World Report's "Best US Colleges" search tool


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