There isn’t much that’s changed about the process of applying to college in the past few decades: first, students determine which schools they’re interested in attending. Then, they complete a college application for each of those schools, and finally, students search for scholarships to defray the cost.
However, tech changes are beginning to break the mold. Here are 3 ways students can utilize technology to help them find their top-choice schools.
Virtual college tours
College tours help prospective students and their parents determine which of the many schools they’re interested in are right for them. The experience helps them witness firsthand the culture, learning environments, and overall social aspect of a school. But what happens for students with a long wish list of schools or those who live out of state with a limited budget for travel?
Virtual reality gives schools the opportunity to showcase their institutions to potential students who may not be able to physically visit before applying.
“If (prospective students) can’t physically get to a campus for various reasons – time, travel, cost – this allows them to experience it,” says Jason Tyson, director of media relations for the University of North Carolina System in an article for U.S. News.
A universal college application
Imagine filling out one singular college application and using it to apply to every school. The Coalition for College is embracing tech to make that scenario a reality. Founded in 2015, this new-to-the-scene collection of college-level leaders started the organization with a mission to overhaul the college application process to make it more accessible for under-represented students.
According to Veritas Prep, “The Coalition will only accept colleges who prove that they provide substantial support (through financial aid, scholarships, or other means) to low-income or otherwise underrepresented students.”
The Coalition Application is similar to the Common App, in which students use one form to apply to colleges in their networks. However, where they stand apart is their tech-driven initiative to prepare students. Students can use tools from MyCoalition, a personal login, to upload items, such as photos, videos, and documents to an online “Locker,” offering unlimited space, which can later be used to collaborate with adults, such as guidance counselors and parents, willing to share input on the applications before they are submitted. Better yet, the stored items can easily be attached to the Coalition Application when students are ready to apply.
Applying for scholarships might feel like a massive undertaking after applying for college, but many organizations are trying to change that way of thinking. Take RaiseMe, a scholarship and educational-connector app, as an example. Students are encouraged to start earning scholarships as early as ninth grade! When using the app, high school students find and then follow colleges that interest them. Then, throughout the year, students add achievements, such as good grades, sports and other club involvements, volunteer activities, and other successes. According to the website, micro scholarships are then offered to the students from the colleges they’re following, as these achievements are updated.
Take Penn State, one of the partnering colleges, as an example. According to an article in the New York Times, the school offers micro scholarships in sums such as, “$120 for each A grade in a core course, $400 for each advanced placement course, $100 for each year of perfect attendance, $100 for a leadership role in a sport or extracurricular activity and $5 for each hour of community service, up to $500.” It’s important to note that the preliminary awards are not an early admissions’ acceptance. Funds will only be dispersed if a student applies to, is accepted by, and enrolls in the college that offered the funding to them.
With so many new tech advances to the college application process, it will be amazing to see what students are doing in just a few years.