Connect! is a Facebook-like platform that works like a virtual guidance counselor. It suggests high school courses and prep courses for standardized tests based on your interests and past performance. It stores your information so you can streamline the college application process. And based on the information in your profile, colleges can come to you. “I put my accomplishments—computer programming awards I’ve won—my goals, my GPA, my grades, the classes and AP courses that I’ve taken,” says Adely Calixte, a 17-year-old junior at Edison High School in Miami, FL. “Colleges can actually see what you’re all about, and you can connect to the colleges and see what they offer and see what scholarships you’re eligible for.” Adely’s school district, the Miami-Dade Public School District, is using Connect! in all 89 high schools to try to improve college enrollment while saving time and money. Besides Florida, Connect! is currently available to students in Texas, Detroit, and Massachusetts, and a consumer version—available to every student, everywhere—will be out in July.
This is a free, unbiased, comprehensive source of information from the government. It allows you to search for schools by tuition, how hard they are to get into, location, and whether they offer distance learning, among many other options.
This is one of the best-known commercial sources for college information. They have a separate guide for distance learning programs.
Another option for connecting with certain colleges online is the Schools App for Facebook. (This is different from individual colleges’ Facebook pages.) A range of colleges are using it, from Maricopa Community Colleges, a huge public district in Arizona, to Columbia College, a private school in Chicago. The idea is to help you connect with other students, faculty and alumni over common interests.
Unigo is a way to find out about colleges from students themselves. You can read reviews and ratings from real students: “The students at UC Davis are active and getting ready to take the world head on,” writes one senior. You can log into the site using Facebook to build a profile and take quizzes that will help you match with colleges based on your price range and how well you did in high school. It’s all free.
“You are more than your test scores,” says Zinch CEO Anne Dwayne. On Zinch you can make a nice-looking professional profile with all your accomplishments, whether sports team videos or band concerts. Indicate your interests and colleges will contact you, with your permission. You can exchange messages with college admissions officers, who also have profiles on the site, and be matched with scholarships. There are about 850 colleges using the site, many of which are very prestigious.