Using the internet for studying, researching colleges, or to complete a simple homework assignment can be useful, yet extremely daunting all at the same time. If you are familiar with certain programs or sites that are user-friendly and disseminates information in a productive, efficient manner, then using the internet should be easy for you! But, if you are one of those people who gets overwhelmed quickly, or you just don’t have time to be scanning website after website, then you are in luck!
At Lighthouse College Planning we recommend many resources for students to be successful when studying for the ACT/SAT or when researching everything there is to know each specific college you are interested in. When studying for one or both standardized tests, the internet should be your friend. Collegeboard.org has teamed up with Khan Academy, which offers any student free SAT prep. Khan Academy gives students endless practice work and explanations of why an answer is right and why an answer is wrong. Khan Academy is there to help students master a skill before they move on to the next. ACT.org has free ACT prep practice as well. They offer students a “Question of the day” and multiple free subject tests with answers. ACT.org is not as extensive as Khan Academy, but it’s free!
When researching colleges, I always recommend that if a student’s high school has the Naviance program, he/she should use it. If your student’s high school does not use Naviance, again, collegeboard.org is very helpful. If students are using the Common Application and are looking for quick information regarding deadlines, fees, or if they want to know how many teacher recommendation letters they need or if a counselor recommendation is required, each year Common App offers an updated grid titled College Deadlines, Fees, and Requirements. If students are looking for quick information regarding the colleges’ grade point average requirement, ACT/SAT requirement, SAT subject test requirement, enrollment, graduation rate, matriculation rate, location, etc., students can research using niche.com, cappex.com, or my personal favorite, the school’s college data/college profile page; you can google each school’s specific page. If you are totally lost on even where to apply, we also recommend that students and parents look at the schools published in the book, 40 Colleges that Change Lives. The book is informational and gives students and parents a different perspective on what these specific colleges look for in a student during application season.
When applying to colleges, websites that you should know and can begin navigating are commonapp.org and coalitionforcollegeaccess.org. These two sites work with hundreds of colleges in order to give students access to one application and one main essay when applying to multiple universities. Students should begin using these sites in the summer going into their senior year. Students should not wait to go back to school senior year to start applying. Most selective or highly selective schools require students to write multiple essays on top of the one general essay for the Common/Coalition Application. Writing essays is tedious, so I always recommend that students google The Naked Truth College Essays. The Chicago Tribune published this article back in 2006 where they highlighted essays of high school seniors from Chicago who were accepted into highly selective schools. It is a great starting point and it gives students specific examples of what a stellar essay looks like.