Researching Colleges Online
20+ years ago when I applied to college, the Internet didn’t exist. We had to research schools at the library using books or send away for brochures. We even had to go to college fairs. Times have changed. You can visit any school in the country without leaving your house and you now have access to almost every particular piece of information you could possibly require on a school. Although you cannot find out what the school is really like socially online, you can get detailed info on housing options, academic programs, enrollment, test scores, social events, clubs, the surrounding area of schools and much more. While it is not a substitute for visiting a school in person, it is a start in the right direction.
I decided to do a little experiment on my Alma Mata’s web site. I went to www.Fairfield.edu to see what I could find in less than 5 minutes.
I was able to find the following information with very little effort and no game plan.
– How many students were enrolled, roughly 3,680
– Religion of the school. Jesuit
– How many students applied from the class of 2018, (10,000)
– How many students were accepted, (7,000)
– How many enrolled, (1,025)
– Directions to the Campus
– That the business school is one of 300 in the nation accredited by the AACSD. Sounds good
– That the residence halls have fiber optic cable connecting all the facilities.
– That they have a legal studies minor. Good for your prospective lawyer.
– That 10% of their student population are International students.
– That they have a church on campus.
– That the campus is 200 acres (not to big, not too small)
– That they have a recreation center with a pool, racquetball courts, weight room, indoor track, and indoor tennis/basketball courts.
– They have a 750-seat theatre.
– They have a game room.
– That each room is equipped with cable TV (TV not included) and a combination refrigerator/microwave (two less things you have to buy or rent)
– They have an Engineering and Nursing program.
While this is basic information, it is useful information and gives me a general understanding of what the school offers. Again, this was done with little effort and had I actually been a potential student, hopefully I would have explored the school further by looking at different housing options, majors, social activities and so forth.
The same techniques can and should be used to research different athletic programs by checking out coaches bio’s and backgrounds, team schedules, and most important, the roster. A roster can tell you a great deal about a team. A roster usually reveals two very important elements of a college athletic program. (1) Where the majority of the players are from tells you where the most recruiting is done. (2) A roster also reveals the ages of the players and what the team needs will be for the next few years. If you find a roster with 10 seniors, that will be 10 new spots opening up next year. If you find a roster with 10 freshman and 10 sophomores, that may be a team that will be harder to find playing time in the future. Again, its up to you to find out the details of each team and in most cases this will require you to have a detailed conversation with coaches and simply asking them what their team needs will be next year and in the future. Don’t ever make decisions based solely on a roster you found online. It could be old or outdated, some of the players may have been injured or transferred, or some of them could have quit. Use the roster as a general guide and get the info you need from other players and coaches.